When counterfeit goods are sold online, trademark and/or copyright infringement is certainly being committed by the manufacturing company, but what about the company that provides the web hosting services for that company? Tiffany v. eBay was a good example of a fair use exception for the online auction house, but there is a distinction to be made between common-carriers like eBay, in which the fair use doctrine provides an exception, and actual service providers.
Internet service providers (ISP’s) are used by nearly every business and person with a website (outside of the web-hosting industry). Website authors buy their domain names and internet access from companies that monitor and control their internet access. Haute-Law.com, for example, uses a great website for blogs, WordPress.com. We pay a small annual fee for our domain name and the WP user face (which makes blogging insanely simple). Louis Vuitton v. Akanoc Solutions answers a very important question for ISP’s that provide service to websites that sell counterfeits.
Just last year, Louis Vuitton successfully sued Akanoc for nearly $11 MILLION dollars. Continue reading