Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Garage Not Liable for Old Web Ads, EU Court Says

(CN) - Former Mercedes-Benz dealers in Europe aren't responsible for Internet ads that continue to associate them with the automaker, the European Court of Justice ruled Thursday.

Egyud Garage in Hungary once had a contractual relationship with Daimler and was entitled to use the Mercedes-Benz trademark and call itself an "authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer" in its own advertisements.

After losing the contract, the garage did its best to remove all online advertisements that might cause the public to think it still had ties to Mercedes and Daimler. But things on the Internet never really go away, and ads linking Egyud to Mercedes continued to pop up online and on search engines.

Daimler sued the garage in a Budapest court demanding that the garage remove the Internet ads and stop using the Mercedes-Benz trademark. The court asked the European Court of Justice whether EU trademark law allows Daimler to force the garage to get the online links to it and the Mercedes mark erased by any means necessary.

In a preliminary ruling issued Thursday, the Luxembourg-based high court said that the garage is no longer using the mark if it has expressly requested websites to remove the ads touting it as an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer and the website operators have disregarded that request.

Also, the court said the advertiser cannot be held liable for other websites picking up the ad and posting it to their sites without the advertiser's permission.

Daimler can't take legal action to force Egyud Garage to do more than it already has, according to the high court's 5-page opinion. But the automaker can claim reimbursement from the advertiser who ignored the garage's request to remove the ads and from other websites that infringe the Mercedes-Benz trademark by reposting the ad, the court concluded.

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