Court Says eBay Sales of L'Oréal Samples Breach Trademark

EBay Inc. may have to change the way it protects L’Oréal SA’s trademarks after Europe’s highest court said Thursday that the cosmetics company can prohibit the sale on the auction site of free samples and products intended for outside Europe.

However, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, Niilo Jaaskinen, in giving his opinion, said eBay could continue to purchase advertising keywords, including L’Oréal trademarks, in order to direct users of Internet search engines to its site.

The ECJ said L’Oréal can prohibit the sale of “testers and dramming bottles, often marked with the words ‘not for sale’… supplied without charge to the trade mark proprietor’s authorized distributors,” because they “cannot be considered as being goods put on the market with the consent of the trade mark proprietor.”

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