In August of 2009, Louis Vuitton (LVMH) won a closely-watched lawsuit against web-hosting company, Akanoc. The fashion giant claimed that Akanoc provided support to Chinese trademark and copyright pirates that sold counterfeit versions of their merchandise. In September of 2011, that ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
This is a significant case for brands and intellectual property protection, a ‘landmark‘ according to WWD reporter, Alexandra Steigrad. A core issue in the lawsuit was the finding that the web hosting firm ‘knowingly’ allowed sites to sell goods that infringed on Louis Vuitton copyrights and trademarks. Damages have been awarded totaling $10.8 million (US).
While the defendants could petition for reconsideration or even bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling sends a strong signal to counterfeiters who ply their trade on the Web as well as those who knowingly support their activities. Brands have another important tool in their arsenal as they seek to protect their valuable intellectual property and their businesses.