L'Oreal SA & Ors v EBay International AG & Ors, Court of Appeal - Chancery Division, May 22, 2009, [2009] EWHC 1094 (Ch)

Resolution Date:May 22, 2009
Issuing Organization:Chancery Division
Actores:L'Oreal SA & Ors v EBay International AG & Ors

Neutral Citation Number: [2009] EWHC 1094 (Ch)

Case No: HC07C01978



Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 22 May 2009

Before :


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Between :

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Henry Carr QC and Tom Mitcheson (instructed by Bristows) for the Claimants

Geoffrey Hobbs QC and Philip Roberts (instructed by Olswang) for the First-Third Defendants

The Fourth-Tenth Defendants did not appear and were not represented

Hearing dates: 9-12, 18-19 March 2009

Further written submissions: 27, 31 March, 7, 23, 27 April 2009

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Topic Paragraphs

Introduction 1

The parties 2-4

The Trade Marks 5-8

L'Oréal 9-11

eBay 12-16

L'Oréal's claims against the Fourth to Tenth Defendants 17-23

The Fourth Defendant 18

The Fifth Defendant 19

The Sixth Defendant 20

The Seventh and Eighth Defendants 21

The Ninth Defendant 22

The Tenth Defendant 23

L'Oréal's claims against eBay Europe 24-31

The issues 32-33

The facts 34-275

eBay Europe's activities 35

Registration 37-40

User Agreement 41-43

Help pages and tutorials 44

Sales formats 45-48

Classified ads 49

Listings 50-54

Cross-promotion 55

eBay Shops 56

eBay Express 57

PowerSellers 58-60

International sellers 61-65

Searching listings 66

Completing a transaction 67

PayPal 68-70

Feedback 71-72

Sellers' profiles 73

Dispute resolution 74-75

Fees earned by eBay Europe 76

Filtering 77-78

VeRO programme 79-86

Community Watch 87

Sanctions 88-9

High Risk Brands 91

The Fourth Defendant's activities 92-114

The Fifth Defendant's activities 115-148

The Sixth Defendant's activities 149-172

The Seventh Defendant's activities 173-192

The Eighth Defendant's activities 193-214

The Ninth Defendant's activities 215-225

The Tenth Defendant's activities 226-245

The Fourth to Eighth Defendants' suppliers 246

L'Oréal's evidence as to the scale of the problem 247-256

IIS 248-250

Envisional 251

Lexsi 252-253

French proceedings 254

Complaints in Germany 255

Commentaries 256

The difficulty of identifying counterfeit products 257-258

L'Oréal's objections to the VeRO programme 259-265

L'Oréal's letter 266

PriceMinister 267-276

Could eBay Europe do more? 277

The key provisions of the Trade Marks Directive 278-282

Use within Article 5(1)(a) of the Trade Marks Directive 283-293

The six conditions 283-288

Use in relation to the trade mark proprietor's goods 289-299

Other questions 300-306

Were the goods sold by the Fourth to Tenth Defendants

infringing goods? 307-342

Counterfeits 312

Non-EEA goods 313-317

Testers and dramming bottles 318-326

Unboxed products 327-342

Are eBay Europe jointly liable for infringements committed

by the Fourth to Tenth Defendants? 343-382

Community law 344-345

Domestic law 346-352

Was there any release? 353-358

Procurement 359

Participation in a common design 360-369

L'Oréal's contentions 360-364

eBay Europe's contentions 365-368

Discussion 369-382

Are eBay Europe liable as primary infringers for the use of

the Link Marks in relation to infringing goods? 383-431

Use in sponsored links 384-425

The complaint 384-387

Use? 388-392

In relation to? 393-399

In the course of trade? 400-401

In the United Kingdom? 402-412

Infringing use? 413-425

Use on the Site 426-431

Use? 427

In relation to? 428

In the course of trade? 429

In the United Kindom? 430

Infringing use? 431

Do eBay Europe have a defence under Article 14 of the

E-Commerce Directive? 432-465

Key provisions of the E-Commerce Directive 433-435

Discussion 436-443

Do L'Oréal have a remedy under Article 11 of the

Enforcement Directive? 444-452

Relevant provisions of the Enforcement Directive 445-446

Domestic law 447-454

What does Article 11 require? 455-465

Are the Distance Selling Regulations relevant to any of the

foregoing issues, and if so how? 466-475

Selected provisions of the Distance Selling Regulations 469-47

Application of the Distance Selling Regulations to

eBay Europe 471-474

Relevance? 475

A reference to the ECJ? 476-480

Conclusions 481


  1. Are eBay Europe liable for trade mark infringements committed by their users? Do eBay Europe themselves commit infringements by using trade marks in relation to infringing goods? In a nutshell, those are the main questions raised by this claim. This is a test case brought by L'Oréal, one of a number they have brought in courts around Europe (including Case RG 07/11365 L'Oréal SA v eBay France SA, in which the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris gave judgment on 13 May 2009). The issues are not peculiar to products of the kind sold by L'Oréal, and other brand owners have also brought claims against both eBay Europe and other providers of similar services. Given that the key aspects of European trade mark law have been harmonised by a European Directive, and that there is also a European Directive harmonising the liability of internet service providers, European courts ought to be in a position to give the same answers to the questions raised. As matters stand, however, they are not able to do so. This is for two main reasons. The less important one is that one aspect of European trade mark law has not been harmonised, and that is the question of accessory liability. The more important reason is that the legislation is unclear and the Court of Justice of the European Communities has either not pronounced on the issues of interpretation or has not yet provided a clear answer.

    The parties

  2. The Second, Third and Fourth Claimants are subsidiaries of the First Claimant. It is common ground that there is no need to differentiate between the Claimants, and I shall refer to them collectively as ``L'Oréal''.

  3. The First, Second and Third Defendants are subsidiaries of eBay Inc, which is not a party to these proceedings. It is common ground that there is no need to differentiate between the First, Second and Third Defendants, and I shall refer to them collectively as ``eBay Europe''. I shall refer to eBay Inc's group of companies generally as ``eBay''.

  4. The Fourth to Tenth Defendants are individuals who are alleged by L'Oréal to have sold infringing products through eBay Europe. L'Oréal has settled with the Fourth to Eighth Defendants and obtained judgment in default of defence against the Ninth and Tenth Defendants. The Fourth to Eighth Defendants have not admitted infringement, but have given contractual undertakings contained in confidential schedules to consent orders in Tomlin form. eBay Europe have brought contribution claims against the Fourth to Tenth Defendants for breach of their respective user agreements with eBay Europe. Those claims have been stayed pending the determination of L'Oréal's claims against eBay Europe. The Ninth and Tenth Defendants were joined to the claim in August 2008, a year after the proceedings were commenced.

    The Trade Marks

  5. One or other of the Claimants is the registered proprietor of the following registered trade marks (``the Trade Marks''):

    i) UK Registration No. 476691 for L'OREAL in class 3, in respect of hair dyes and other preparations for the hair;

    ii) UK Registration No. 655072 for LANCOME in class 3 in respect of non-medicated toilet preparations, cosmetic preparations, perfumes and perfumed soap;

    iii) UK Registration No. 692680 for MAYBELLINE in class 3, in respect of cosmetics and non-medicated toilet preparations;

    iv) UK Registration No. 1034105 for KERASTASE in class 3, in respect of perfumes, non-medicated toilet preparations, cosmetics, dentifrices, depilatory preparations, toilet articles, preparations for the hair, and soaps;

    v) UK Registration No. 1099431 for MAGIE NOIRE in class 3, in respect of non-medicated toilet preparations, perfumes, soaps and cosmetics;

    vi) UK Registration No. 1228643 for MATRIX in class 3, in respect of non-medicated toilet preparations; cosmetics; perfumes; preparations for the hair; soaps; cleansing preparations for toilet purposes; bath additives, hand creams, body massage creams, body lotions and face creams, all being non-medicated preparations for the care of the skin;

    vii) UK Registration No. 1270710 for SHU UEMURA in class 3, in respect of soaps; perfumes; essential oils; cosmetics; hair lotions;

    viii) UK Registration No. 1288684 for SOFT SHEEN in class 3, in respect of preparations and substances, all for the hair;

    ix) UK Registration No. 1382742 for TRESOR in class 3, in respect of perfumes; toilet waters; non-medicated toilet lotions; soaps; cosmetics; make-up; oils, creams and liquids, all being perfumed lathering and softening products for use in the bath; non-medicated foaming preparations for use in the bath; toothpastes;

    x) UK Registration No. 1444126 for KIEHL'S in class 3, in respect of cosmetics; soaps; preparations for the hair and scalp; essential oils; non-medicated toilet preparations; facial scrubs and facial masks; perfumes, colognes and toilet waters; shampoos; deodorants for use on the person; anti-perspirants; sun-tanning preparations; shaving preparations; skin care preparations; talcum powders; lipsticks and lip balms; make-up and make-up removing preparations; cosmetic preparations for baths and showers;

    xi) UK Registration No. 1453116 for DEFINICILS in class 3, in respect of make-up products and products for the care of eyelashes;

    xii) UK Registration No. 1458930...

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