French class action and trademark infringement

Published onJune 2014

As already stated in a previous article, French law of 17 March 2014 related to protection of consumers modified the French Consumer Code by creating a class action allowing the consumers to collectively enforce their rights when they have been infringed.

This procedure cannot be organized by lawyers, but must be submitted by authorized consumers’ associations. The entities representing claimants have to be of non-profit character, to ensure that they are guided by the interests of those affected by situations of mass damages, and very clearly, as recommended by the European Commission (*) to avoid a “US-style system of class actions and the risk of frivolous claims and abusive litigation”.

The class action is only intended for obtaining compensation of the “material damage” in such areas as consumers protection and fight against anti-competitive practices.

Unfortunately this group action cannot be initiated by trademarks owners who consider themselves victims of infringement against their IP rights.

Yet it would help trademark owners act together and defend their IP rights against infringement practices over the internet often due to isolated persons offering low volumes of counterfeited goods bearing trademarks owned by different companies.

It would be opportune that the protection and defense of the collective interests of consumers against misleading practices encourage legislators to expand access to this new French class action in favour of IP rights holders.

© INSCRIPTA

(*) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-524_en.htm