French Lawsuit Involving “Search Engine Optimization” Techniques

I haven’t seen much discussion on the recent French opinion Societe Kaligona v. Societe Dreamnex, French Court of Appeals, Jan. 12, 2005. (I’m working from a BNA report—subscription required). The case involves two competing Internet sex shops. Dreamnex’s site saw a drop in traffic, which it attributed to lower rankings in French search engines. It then discovered that Kaligona had stolen some of its “search optimization techniques.” The BNA write-up is a little fuzzy about what this means. There’s reference to Kaligona stealing keywords and metatags, although later there’s reference to Kaligona taking a “detailed catalogue” of the site’s goods and services. The appeals court rejected any copyright claim in these “search optimization techniques” but still found against the defendant based on (according to BNA) unfair competition/parasitic commercial behavior/usurpation of creative rights. I really don’t understand these claims. According to the BNA report:

“the court did find that Kaligona’s reproduction of Dreamnex’s search engine optimization techniques represented a “deliberate” attempt to claim its rival’s spot atop the search engine rankings, and thus cause “confusion” among would-be visitors.”

This could be a garden variety metatag case, but the write-up seems to suggest something more interesting. If anyone has or can get a good English translation, please let me know and I’ll post it.

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