On September 12th, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling that entitled Louis Vuitton to a judgment against Managed Solutions Group, Akanoc Solutions and Steven Chen, defendants involved in a web-hosting firm allied with Chinese copyists. The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit, however, ruled the decrease the jury's $32.7 million award to the French design house by approximately 60 percent. The Court reversed the award and ordered Akanoc and Chen to pay Louis Vuitton a total of $10.8 million.
An interesting argument from the defendants was that the District Court in its jury instructions had failed to address the "proper scope of the means of infringement." Defendants contended that the websites selling the infringing products were the only means of infringement, and that the trial court neglected to distinguish between the defendants and their customers in that respect.
The Appellate court disagreed. Judge Ronald Gould wrote: "As the District Court held, appellants physically host websites on their servers and route Internet traffic to and from those websites. This service is the Internet equivalent of leasing real estate. Appellants had control over the services and servers provided to the websites. Stated another way, appellants had direct control over the 'master switch' that kept the websites online and available. The District Court did not abuse its discretion by formulating jury instructions that referred to the servers and services provided by appellants."