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France Telecom and TBWA Incur $55,000 Damages in Ad Infringement Case

News, 26 February 2001


Three advertising slogans created by France Telecom’s roster agency TBWA Worldwide have led to the penalising of the duo by a Paris court.

Following a complaint by a hitherto little known French web agency LaVie.com, the court upheld the shop’s contention that France Telecom’s long-running corporate campaign had caused irreparable harm to its image and confusion with its business affairs.

The offending campaign, created by TBWA in 1999 and still current, makes major use of the slogans La Vie.com, Bienvenue dans la vie.com, and France Telecom, Bienvenue dans la vie.com. Use of these, agreed the court, violated the complainant’s intellectual property rights.

It accordingly quashed the slogan's trademark protection held by France Telecom and ordered the former state monopoly to axe all marketing use of the words within six months. FT and TBWA were also ordered to pay $55,000 in damages and costs.

The ruling hangs a massive question mark over the telecom giant’s corporate communications strategy, into which it has in two years poured over $60 million in media investment alone. A company spoke said that France Telecom had not yet decided whether to appeal against the judgement.

News source: Advertising Age - International Daily