A unanimous jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that two ISPs committed contributory trademark infringement and copyright infringement against Louis Vuitton Malettier S.A. for failing to block Web sites offering counterfeit Louis Vuitton merchandise. Louis Vuitton was awarded $31.5 million in statutory damages for contributory trademark infringement, and $900,000 in damages for contributory copyright infringement. Louis Vuitton sent the ISPs 19 notices informing them that Web sites they were hosting were offering infringing merchandise for sale. When the ISPs failed to disable the Web sites, Louis Vuitton filed suit. Notably, the jury found that the ISPs were not entitled to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe-harbor provisions, which would have protected them from liability for contributory copyright infringement, because the ISPs had actual knowledge of the infringements.
TIP: Companies should take prompt action when notified of potential trademark or copyright violations in third-party or user-generated content on their Web sites, or risk liability.