Google and Facebook Forced to Help Chanel Fight Counterfeiting

700 domains are about to be seized after being suspected of selling fake goods

By on November 30th, 2011 08:46 GMT

French fashion house Chanel won a big battle with counterfeiters after it obtained a court order against hundreds of websites that commercialized fake luxury products.

A Nevada court ruled in favor of Chanel and, besides giving them the power to seize the rogue domains, the judge also ordered search engines and social media websites to make sure the domain names won’t pop up in any searches or advertisements.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Bing, Google and Yahoo will have to remove every trace of the websites, thus making sure the luxury goods provider’s business will not be affected by rogue shops, reports Wired.

It turns out that Chanel filed a law suit against close to 700 domain names, all of which will be now transferred to GoDaddy registrar in the US.

On November 14, 228 sites were also pursued by the company in a courtroom and none of them had the chance to defend themselves.

To prove that the sites in question were dealing counterfeit goods, Chanel had a private investigator make an order from three of the shops. The products were then reviewed by a specialist who declared them fakes.

The rest of the domains were seized based on the inquiries made by a Chanel anti-counterfeiting expert who browsed the Internet in search for online stores.

The only problem is that not all the domains were from the US and such a search engine and social media censorship could be regarded as a violation of internet freedom. Experts see this ruling as being highly problematic with potentially unwanted outcomes.

“I’m sympathetic to the ‘whack-a-mole’ problem rights owners face, but this relief is just extraordinarily broad and is on shaky procedural grounds,” law professor Venkat Balasubramani said.

“I’m not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name’s registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court’s orders.”

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