Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Damages in France: is there a sign of an upward trend?

SNCF: from chemin de fer
to information highway
Last October Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris ruled in favour of French national railway operator Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF) in a dispute concerning the registration of a domain name which infringed the company's SNCF trade mark. Opting to sue for trade mark infringement rather than merely go for a domain name transfer via a cheap-and-cheerful domain name arbitration, SNCF hit the jackpot.  The court not only ordered the transfer of the domain name but ordered the infringer to pay the following sums:
* €10,000 for trade mark infringement;
* €5,000 for violation of the SNCF's rights in the domain name sncf-usa.com and
* €5,000 for perpetrating a misleading commercial practice.
* Costs of €5,000.
The authors of the source from which this note is taken add:
"In terms of brand protection strategy, there is little doubt that the prospect of court action is a more powerful deterrent than a UDRP decision. The defendant in the present case is now in the position of having to find €25,000, a significant sum which will certainly make him and others think twice about such behaviour".
Even apart from the deterrent factor, it seems to this blogger that, on the whole, damages in French trade mark infringement proceedings have in the past tended to be fairly low.  While €25,000 is not exactly a king's ransom, it strikes him as indicating that, possibly since the coming into force of the EU's IP Enforcement Directive, French damages awards may have become a little more generous.  IP Finance would be happy to hear from French readers as to whether this impression is correct.

Source: "Court decision sends strong warning to cybersquatters", written for World Trademark Review by David Taylor and Vincent Denoyelle (Hogan Lovells, Paris).

1 comment:

Frédéric said...

While it is certainly not representative of past French jurisprudence, I remember the Paris court awarding 1 million of Francs (about 150.000 euros) to SFR in a case dealing with the SFR.com domain.
Judgement (in French): http://www.legalis.net/spip.php?page=breves-article&id_article=432