Internet auction site eBay is generally not liable for trade mark infringements committed by users on its site, the European Court of Justice said in a non-binding opinion issued on Thursday.
However, ECJ Advocate General Niilo Jaaskinen said that if eBay had been notified of the infringing use of a trade mark, and a user continued to repeat that infringement, the company could be held liable.
The use of the disputed trademarks as keywords by eBay does not necessarily result in misleading the consumers as to the origin of the goods offered, the advocate general found in his written opinion.
In cases where the ad itself is not misleading as to the nature of the advertising Internet marketplace operator, the function of the trademark of indicating the origin of the product is not likely to be jeopardized.
Opinions are upheld by the ECJ, Europe's highest court, in the vast majority of cases. The court is expected to issue its judgment in a few months.
The case relates to allegations of trademark infringement on eBay concerning L'Oreal, the world' largest cosmetics maker.
In March, the ECJ found that Google had not breached trademark law by selling keywords to trigger ads after luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton and two other firms said the practice undermined their brands. [ID:nLDE62L0P7]
(Writing by Luke Baker, editing by Rex Merrifield)