Niet anders dan voor waren en diensten
Hof van Beroep Brussel, 11 februari 2009, 2008/AR/719, eBay International A.G. c.s. tegen The Polo/Lauren Company L.P. (met dank aan Thierry van Innis en Geert Glas, Allen & Overy)
Benelux Merkenrecht. eBay maakt geen inbreuk op de merken "Ralph Lauren" en "Polo Sport" door het gebruiken van daarmee overeenstemmende Google AdWords.
Geen inbreuk op grond van art. 2.20 lid 1 sub d BVIE. Het hof oordeelt dat dit gebruik geen gebruik anders dan ter onderscheiding van waren en diensten oplevert, aangezien eBay de AdWords gebruikt als herkomstaanduiding van de op haar website verkochte producten en niet voor andere doeleinden, zoals bijvoorbeeld het promoten van haar eigen website.
Under no circumstances can the consumer believe that such use is intended to distinguish the eBay company itself from another company (…) The use by eBay of the Ralph Lauren and Polo Sport trademarks has the essential function of identifying the goods sold on its site and distinguishing them from the other goods sold on this site. (…) it is not because eBay buys as AdWords keywords reproducing well-known trademarks that we must deduce that it intended as a priority to advertise its site by using the advertising function of these trademarks. (Nederlandse vertaling helaas nog niet beschikbaar).
Inbreuk op grond van artikel 2.20 lid 1 sub a BVIE is niet gesteld. Geen verplichting voor eBay om het gebruik van deze AdWords te beperken voor EER-goederen, zoals in eerste instantie was bepaald door de Belgische rechter.
9. It is therefore established, in the case at hand, that the use by eBay of the Ralph Lauren and Polo Sport trademarks has the essential function of identifying the goods sold on its site and distinguishing them from the other goods sold on this site.
The mere fact that the consumer is warned that such brand products are likely to be purchased on eBay does not imply that he believes that eBay is the seller, especially since the relevant public, which is used to this type of transactions, knows that eBay is only an intermediary and that the sale takes place directly between the seller and the buyer. In any case, nothing prohibits a third party user of the trademark, such as an intermediary or provider of related goods and services, from using it to distinguish the product, provided it does not affect the essential function of the trademark. Under no circumstances can the consumer believe that such use is intended to distinguish the eBay company itself from another company.
It does not matter that the internet user is not immediately sent to the page where Ralph Lauren and Polo Sport brand products are offered, since it is enough for him to retype the same keyword in the search field inserted in the Clothing & Accessories page to be sent to the specific page. It cannot be deduced from this mere circumstance that eBay intended as a priority to advertise its own company. In fact, eBay declared to be ready, without any prejudicial acknowledgment, to send the internet user directly to the specific ads, without going through the general page of the corresponding category, and the Court records this.
Equally, it is not because eBay buys as AdWords keywords reproducing well-known trademarks that we must deduce that it intended as a priority to advertise its site by using the advertising function of these trademarks. Since well-known brand products are offered for sale on the eBay site, eBay may legitimately buy the corresponding AdWords, which allows it to inform the internet users of the possibility to buy these products through it. eBay may also legitimately choose itself the AdWords, since it has all the sales statistics and therefore is in the best position to know the needs of the buyers.
10. To the extent that it is based on article 2.20.1.d of CBPI, the Ralph Lauren's claim is not well founded, since eBay did not use the trademark other than for the purposes of distinguishing goods or services.
Moreover, the use by eBay of the trademarks to identify products is not otherwise criticized by Ralph Lauren, especially based on article 2.20.1.a of CBPI.