On July 1st 2011, the commercial court of Paris sentenced Hi-Media, a company specialised inter alia in micro-payment, to pay 25.000 € damages for deleting the name of one its competitors, Rentabiliweb, from a Wikipedia page. This page was focusing on micro-payment and was listing a number of actors of the sector among which Hi-Media and Rentabiliweb. Because it deleted the name of the latter, Hi-Media was found liable of an act of disparagement.

In July 2008, Rentabiliweb noticed that its name/trademark had been deleted from the references mentioned on the page dedicated to “micro-payment” in the free encyclopaedia. And according to the IP address identified by Rentabiliweb, the deletion came from Hi-Media.

In June 2010, Rentabiliweb summoned its competitor to appear before the Commercial court and, last week, the judges recognised that the plaintiff had provided evidence that the deletion of its name/trademark had indeed been performed by someone under the authority of Hi-Media. The court valued Rentabiliweb’s prejudice to 25.000 €, considering that the amount should not be higher since “Wikipedia did not appear as a website where internet users usually go to find service suppliers”.

The irony is that the initial plaintiff, Rentabiliweb, has also been sentenced to pay 100.000 € to Hi-Media for disparagement and free riding. Indeed, in December 2010, after expressing interest in buying one of Hi-Media’s micro-payment activities, “Allopass”, the President of Rentabiliweb made very negative comments to the press about the good health of Allopass and his lack of interest for this activity.

Last Monday, July 4th 2011, Rentabiliweb referred the case to the Court of Appeal considering that the judgment was unjustified and factually baseless. Therefore, the case is not closed yet and will need to be closely monitored.