Claire Bouchenard

19 juillet 2009


The French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) published on 5 February 2009 a targeted advertising report detailing the recent developments in the marketing sphere, the threats for the online privacy of individuals and the potential remedies.   

There is nowadays three kinds of targeted advertising: the personalized advertising which is function of the features divulged by the individual himself, the contextual advertising which is function of the literal content of the webpages viewed by the individual and the behavioural advertising which is function of the observation of the individual’s online behaviour through time.

The way how online advertising companies build user profiles is twofold: either the profiles are based on the information given by the user when for instance he subscribes to a service (explicit profiles with personal data) or they are based on the observation of the users at a given moment or though a time lapse thanks to cookies (predictive profiles with anonymous data).

There is a market tendency to the convergence between the different advertising stakeholders, especially between the advertising suppliers (media owners/ publishers) and the content or services suppliers, as for instance the recent acquisition of DoubleClick by Google. So now, the advertising stakeholders can cross explicit and predictive profiles and benefit from a pool of precise data, in order to target the advertising. The threats for the online privacy of individuals are that:

  • announcers are going to be very interested in buying the data of such precise profiles which can be used to select customers or applicants (loan, health insurance, etc.), to recruit employees or to modulate prices,

  • more and more data and notably delicate data (health, political opinions, sexuality, etc.) are stored and computer systems can be hacked and the data stolen,

  • the individuals lack for information about the data which are collected and about the profiling mechanisms. Usually, they do not know that they can opt-out of receiving targeted advertising. Furthermore, this opt-out cookie has to be reinstalled each time the individual clear his browser’s cookies, and only deals with the use of the data for marketing purposes, not with their collection. In this respect, if the individual chooses to block cookies, he will have access to almost none of the Web services.

To find remedies to this very obscure situation, the CNIL recommended:

  • to adopt a wide definition of what is a personal data including IP address and to consider that since the content of an ad is targeted in function of a pre-definite profile, the personal data protection law should apply,

  • to clearly and fully inform the Internet users of the installation of cookies even if the collected data are not personal but anonymous, of the purposes of such an installation and of the way how they can oppose to it,

  • to encourage the adoption of codes of conduct and of good practice by the professionals and the application of the opt-in rule,

  • to increase the Internet users awareness of the means how to control and delete their Internet usage tracks,

  • to homologate the websites or the online advertising stakeholders which will comply with the data protection,

  • to distinguish tracking cookies from the other cookies in order to facilitate their control. 

Targeted and behavioural advertising is booming. The means by which the individuals should be informed and the tools by which the protection of their rights should be insured, have to be found now.

Posté par clairebouchenard à 10:15 - - Commentaires [3] - Permalien [#]

26 août 2008


Everything began with the death of a Brazilian model in 2006 and with the banishment of ultra-thin models from Spanish catwalks in 2007.

It went on with the « No anorexia » campaign of the Italian fashion label « No-L-ita » showing the 25 years old French actress, Isabelle Caro, nude while she weighs 30 kgs, having been anorexic since she the age of 12. This ad was banned in France by the French self-regulatory Office for Verification of Advertising (« BVP »). The BVP considered the ad contrary to human dignity and likely to offend people’s sensitivies.

Simultaneously, a working group called « anorexia and body image » was  deliberating under the aegis of the French Health Ministry and developed a Voluntary Charter which was signed in April 2008 by the Heath Ministry, the French Fashion Federation, model agencies, advertisers and BVP.

The signatories pledged « not to accept the dissemination of images of people, especially if they are young, which could promote a model of extreme thinness », « to avoid any form of stereotyping that could promote the formation of an aesthetic archetype potentially dangerous to vulnerable population groups » and to « educate the public about the acceptance of body diversity ».

The story to date ends with the French bill "against incitement to anorexia" according to which :

-      provoking a person to seek excessive thinness, to encourage prolonged dietary restrictions whose effect is to expose to danger of death or to directly jeopardize health, will be punished with a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment and a € 30,000 fine.

-      if this provocation leads to the death of the person, the penalty is increased to three years' imprisonment and a € 45,000 fine.

-     propaganda or advertising, whatever the media, for products, goods or methods advocated as a means to achieve excessive thinness and directly undermine health, will be punished by two years' imprisonment and € 30,000 fine.

This last provision has been included in order to fight against the proliferation of "pro-ana" (pro-anorexia) websites which appear to advocate anorexia.

The proposed measure is a private member's bill, but it has been adopted by the French equivalent of the House of Commons and and is about to be also adopted by the French Senate. Therefore it seems there is a good chance this will become law, perhaps by the Summer of 2008 and by the end of the year at latest.

About 30.000 to 40.000 persons are suffering from anorexia in France, notably the daughter of the ex-President Jacques Chirac whose wife founded an association called « Solenn’s House », dedicated to teenagers’ pathologies (Solenn was the first name of a famous French TV journalist’s daughter who was anorexic and who committed suicide in the Metro, the Parisian underground).

As anorexia appears to be often linked to the portrayal of women in media as skinny models (also called « size zero » models), the French authorities have decided to incriminate every kind of provocation to anorexia, including through advertising.

Thus the world of commerce is made responsible for the good health of the public and of their dietary choices.

And yesterday, the French Health Minister was talking about banning advertising for some alimentary products in order to fight against infantile obesity … 

Is this kind of regulation the answer to eating disorders? This issue should remain a hot current topic in France for a while.

Posté par clairebouchenard à 23:53 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

24 mars 2008


Law stated as at: 14 February 2008

What happened:

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, who were recently married, won the action they had brought against the low cost airline Ryanair for having used their photograph in an advertisement for cheap flights. In this ad, a bubble showed the former top-model thinking that: "With Ryanair, my whole family can attend my wedding.". In two decisions dated 5th February 2008, the Court ruled that the ad which was published without their consent, infringed the image right of both of the couple.

Ruling of the court

Regarding Nicolas Sarkozy, the Court ruled that he owns "in respect of his image, regardless of his status and reputation, an absolute and exclusive right." As such, Nicolas Sarkozy was awarded his requested 1 € in symbolic damages. Regarding Carla Bruni, arguing that she usually sells her image for use in an ad in the sole French territory for 500,000 €, Carla Bruni claimed for half a million euro. The court found that she suffered economic damage estimated at 60,000 euros.  The court also ruled that such an assessment should take into account the extent of the advertising campaign. The court summarised this as "one publication in a French newspaper on January 28 but also the huge buzz sought by RyanAir ". Indeed, the dissemination of the ad was a lot more widespread, especially via the Internet.

Why this matters:

This is the first time a Court has assessed damages taking into account not only the media exposure planned for the ad but also the "buzz" effect which is not under the control of the advertiser. As the buzz was foreseeable, the Court considered that it was intended by RyanAir and thus that this advertiser was liable for the injury incurred by the buzz created by its ad. Carla Bruni donated her damages award to a charity organization.

Posté par clairebouchenard à 10:35 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

16 février 2008


Selon l’article L.111-1 du CPI : « l’auteur d’une œuvre de l’esprit jouit sur cette œuvre, du seul fait de sa création, d’un droit de propriété incorporelle exclusif et opposable à tous ».

Ainsi, contrairement au système du copyright anglo-saxon, la jouissance des droits d’auteur n’est pas subordonnée à un enregistrement de l’œuvre.

La preuve de la paternité, c’est-à-dire de la qualité d’auteur, peut se faire par tous moyens. Les juges apprécient ensuite, de manière casuistique, la force probante du moyen rapporté.

La valeur des moyens de preuve

Les documents produits doivent, pour être considérés comme un élément de preuve suffisant par les Tribunaux, avoir date certaine et identifier l'oeuvre sans contestation possible.

Ainsi sont considérés comme des moyens de preuve valables et suffisants :

  • Des articles de presse relproduisant la création.

  • L’enveloppe Soleau auprès de L’INPI ou des greffes des tribunaux de commerce.

  • L’envoi à soi-même ou à un tiers de l’œuvre sous un pli recommandé avec accusé de réception.

  • Le dépôt auprès d’un notaire ou un huissier.

  • Le dépôt auprès d’organismes privés tels que les sociétés de gestion collective (SACEM, SACD, SCAM) ou certains syndicats d’auteurs (SNAC). 

Se sont développés des systèmes de dépôt en ligne ( ou qui offrent les mêmes garanties pratiques que les précédents moyens de preuve envisagés : conservation de l’œuvre sur un support non réinscriptible dans un coffre de banque et certificat de dépôt électronique affecté d’une date précise synchronisée sur l’horloge atomique.

La portée de la preuve 

Les moyens susvisés sont des éléments de preuve de la paternité qu’un auteur est en droit de revendiquer sur sa création. En effet, ils permettent de prouver l’antériorité de l’œuvre et l’identité de son auteur en cas de contrefaçon. Cependant:

  • Ces dépôts et autres modes d’attestation de la création ne sont pas en eux-mêmes constitutifs de droits d’auteur : une œuvre de l’esprit ne sera protégée que si elle remplit les traditionnels critères de forme et d’originalité souverainement appréciés par les juges du fond,

  • La preuve de la date de création et de la paternité ainsi rapportée n’est pas irréfragable : la preuve contraire, preuve d’une antériorité, reste possible. Ainsi, le dépôt volontaire qui a pour effet de donner date certaine à des créations, est utile pour apprécier la préexistence d’une œuvre par rapport à une autre en cas de litige, mais ne prive pas le titulaire de la possibilité d’établir par d’autres moyens que la création remonte à une date antérieure.

Posté par clairebouchenard à 14:49 - - Commentaires [1] - Permalien [#]


Law stated as at: 18 January 2008 

What happened:

Sustainable development and ecologic concerns have pushed French advertising agencies and advertisers to set up new bodies and rules and to strengthen controls for 2008.

New stakeholder council

First, the French self-regulatory Office for Verification of Advertising ( the Bureau de Vérification de la Publicité or “BVP”) has set up an Advertising Stakeholder Council (Conseil Paritaire de la Publicité, or “CPP”), composed of members from the advertising industry, non governmental organisations and consumer associations. It will be called upon to participate in the development or modification of ethical standards and will publish nonbinding opinions. According to the BVP, two important concessions have been granted: the chairman of the CPP will be from the voluntary sector and its advice will be made public.

New "Ethics Jury"

The BVP also wished to strengthen its control system, while making its procedures more transparent and impartial. For this reason, has been created an Advertising Ethics Jury (Jury de l’Ethique Publicitaire or "JEP") in charge of dealing with complaints about advertisements which may contravene Ethics rules. It will be composed of experts proposed jointly by the CPP, the board of directors of BVP and the Advertising Ethics Council of the BVP. The decisions of JEP will also be made public. As for campaigns that are criticised, the JEP may request their suspension.

Furthermore, advertisers have accepted that any environmental claims they make will be the subject of systematic consultation with professionals before dissemination of any national campaign, whatever the medium (not only TV).

The BVP also plan to sign a "Targets and Commitments Charter" with the Ecology and Sustainable Development Ministry, which will give rise to an annual public report related to the behaviour of the advertising sector.

New “Responsible Communications Charter”

Also the French Advertisers’ Association (Union des Annonceurs or "UDA") which is a member of BVP, has adopted a Responsible Communication Charter drafted by several sustainable development promoters. It contains five commitments:

·         all external communication should be compliant with the codes of responsible communication;

  • advertisers should encourage audiences to adopt responsible behaviour,

  • advertisers should loyally use their clients’ personal data in their marketing and commercial approaches,

  • advertisers should establish internal validation procedures for vetting their campaigns before their dissemination,

  • advertisers should take into account environmental impacts in their choice of communication tools.

Among the 300 members of UDA, about thirty have already signed the Charter.

Why this matters:

It is going to be impossible to disseminate in France a campaign which would not be “environmentally correct”. For instance, it is already not imaginable under a BVP doctrine memo of June 2007, to show in TV ads a car in wilderness, only on authorized highways.

Posté par clairebouchenard à 14:02 - - Commentaires [1] - Permalien [#]


Law stated as at: 28 June 2007

What happened:

The National Commission of Data processing and Freedoms (CNIL) inflicted a fine of  € 30.000 on the company Tyco Healthcare France which is the subsidiary of a multinational organization based in US, specialized in the manufacturing of medical material. This company was accused of unlawful cross-border transfers of human resources data.

TYCO notified the CNIL in 2004 that is was operating a human resources database, containing personal information collected for a vague purpose of "managing careers of international employees".

Several times in 2005, the CNIL asked TYCO for further information essential to the investigation of the file, notably the precise description of the purposes sought, the specific situations in which personal data were transferred from France to USA, the accurate location of the servers, the identification of the recipients of the data.

The information given by TYCO was not satisfactory, nor sufficient for the CNIL.

Then TYCO ensured the CNIL that the database was not used anymore.

An inspection in 2006 by the CNIL at TYCO's premises showed the opposite: an actualization and a regular update of the database regarding 450 employees and a use of it more extensive than the company had originally indicated.

The CNIL noted in its decision dated December 14, 2006 that TYCO "obviously did not measure the seriousness of the failures which were reproached to it and which constitute a penal offence of impediment".

Indeed, it is one thing not to want to subject itself to control and another thing to provide erroneous information and thus to behave in an unacceptable manner.

The offence of impediment is envisaged by article 51 of the French data-processing law of January 6, 1978 which lays out that "a penalty of one year of imprisonment and a fine of € 15.000 is applicable to impeding the action of the CNIL : [...] 3° By giving information that does not correspond to  the content of the records existing at the time of the request or that does not present the  content in a form that is directly accessible". Thus, the penal fine envisaged by the French law is lower than the administrative fine pronounced by the CNIL in the TYCO case.

However, the TYCO sanction is not therefore illegal since article 47 of the same law makes it possible for the CNIL to impose on data controller who does not comply with the law, a financial penalty at a maximum of € 150.000 in case of a first breach and at a maximum of € 300.000 in the event of a second breach within five years from the date of the preceding financial penalty.

Consequently, the CNIL is far from its legal maximum and the sanction with regard to TYCO which appears severe at first sight, is finally rather lenient.

Wider implications

More generally, the TYCO case raises the issue of the export of personal data from the EU to the USA.

Pursuant to the Directive 95/46/EC, a transfer of personal data from UE to a third country may only take place if the third country in question ensures an adequate level of data protection. The US is not classified as one of those countries.

So, US corporations have to be very cautious with the export of personal data linked to their employees from the EU to the US, all the more as the EU data protection laws apply to transfers between two companies of a same corporate group. 

US corporations can preserve their cross-border data flows by certifying adherence to the principles outlined in the Safe Harbor Accord of 2002 which provides an adequate level of protection according to European Commission, by signing contracts with the relevant data exporters including the Standard Contractual Clauses published by the European Commission in 2001 and modified in 2004 or by obtaining the express consent of each data subject to the transfer of his personal data to a State not satisfying the conditions of the Directive.

In any case, it is necessary to take precautions in order to comply with the EU Directive. The decision of the CNIL with regard to TYCO reminded it.

Posté par clairebouchenard à 13:58 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

22 janvier 2008


Le droit des marques

Le droit des marques peut permettre la protection d’une teinte de couleur particulière ou d’une combinaison de couleurs aux nuances spécifiques.

Cette combinaison de couleurs doit avoir fait l’objet d’un dépôt particulier ou constituer un élément détachable et essentiel de la marque complexe déposée, exerçant partie de sa fonction attractive (TGI Paris 10/03/99 : protection de la teinte de couleur de la marque complexe déposée par KENZO consistant en un décor végétal gaufré de couleur vert jade céladon).

La protection ne peut en outre s’appliquer qu’à la combinaison déposée, c’est-à-dire à l’agencement particulier des couleurs entre elles: « L’utilisation d’un signe proche pour désigner la marque et l’utilisation des trois mêmes couleurs disposées de façon ressemblante confère une allure générale proche qui entraîne une confusion » (CA Paris, 01/06/92, Marque Evian et étiquettes Vivian pour une eau minérale).

Enfin, la protection suppose que la teinte ou la combinaison revendiquée présente un caractère suffisamment distinctif par rapport aux produits auxquels elle s’applique (caractère usuel ou non).

Le droit d’auteur

Le droit d’auteur ne peut protéger que des œuvres de l’esprit déterminées, c’est-à-dire des formes. Une combinaison de couleur ne peut donc pas, en soi, être protégée sur le fondement du droit d’auteur.

La reprise d’une combinaison de couleur peut cependant constituer un élément permettant d’établir la contrefaçon d’une forme dès lors que les autres éléments caractéristiques de cette forme sont également repris.

Ainsi, l’imitation du graphisme d’un logo, c’est-à-dire de son dessin, de la typographie de ses éléments dénominatifs, des couleurs utilisées et de l’agencement général de toutes ces composantes, peut constituer une contrefaçon de droit d’auteur.

A propos d’un conditionnement, il a été jugé que « sur les conditionnements incriminés, la tête de bœuf comme celle de la volaille est blanche marquée de noir, reprenant l’essentiel des animaux de Maggi. Que ces têtes s’inscrivent sur un fond de forme rectangulaire jaune, une ligne blanche séparant ce fond à un tiers de la base et arrivant sur l’emballage du bouillon de volaille exactement au niveau de la barbe, comme sur la marque Maggi. Que la société Gallina Blanca utilise la couleur rouge pour ses mentions « Pot-au-feu », « Bouillon de volaille » (…), ce qui laisse dans l’esprit du consommateur une association des couleurs rouge et jaune. Qu’ainsi le consommateur qui ne verra pas en même temps les marques « Maggi » et les produits Gallina Blanca, surpris par le même ensemble de couleurs, le trait blanc au même niveau, la tête de l’animal cernée de noir, est susceptible de commettre une confusion préjudiciable à la société Maggi » (TGI Paris, 07/05/93).

La concurrence déloyale

La reprise d’une couleur ou combinaison de couleurs, n’étant pas usuelle ou banale pour désigner le type de produits en cause, peut constituer un acte de concurrence déloyale dès lors qu’une telle reprise génère un risque de confusion.

« Le blister utilisé par la SARPP pour présenter en grandes surfaces le produit Sucrandel est collé sur un carton dont la couleur, d’une manière générale, et le dessin évoquent le carton utilisé par la société Searle pour présenter Canderel » et constitue un acte de concurrence déloyale (TGI Paris, 21/06/90).

« Est distinctive pour la commercialisation d’un produit alimentaire, notamment une gelée, une étiquette caractérisée par une combinaison de couleurs et de signes, à savoir : l’emploi du jaune pour le fond, du rouge pour les lettres, ces couleurs apparaissant dans des nuances lumineuses, la position du logotype « gelée » dans le haut de l’étiquette, la grandeur des lettres constitutives de ce logotype, enfin la présence d’une barre rouge transversale séparant l’étiquette en deux parties. Constitue un acte de concurrence déloyale le fait par un commerçant d’utiliser une étiquette qui, malgré quelques différences, présente une opposition de couleurs et un arrangement des signes conduisant au même aspect d’ensemble, notamment un rouge identique pour les lettres et un fond jaune identique » (CA Paris, 08/11/84).

Il a été jugé que la combinaison de couleurs rouge et jaune ainsi que l’apposition d’une bande sur le coté gauche des sachets était courante dans le conditionnement des épices et que la société Ducros ne démontrant pas avoir été la première à mettre sur la marché ce type d’emballages, elle ne pouvait faire grief à la société Suproc d’employer ces couleurs et cette bande (CA Paris, 26/10/93).

Le parasitisme

Ce grief peut être retenu même en l’absence d’un risque de confusion dès lors qu’il est constaté qu’une entreprise se place dans le sillage d’une autre et profite ainsi indûment des efforts commerciaux développés par une entreprise tierce.

« Considérant que Lactel en abandonnant courant 1994 son conditionnement à dominante bleue au profit de la seule couleur rose fuchsia et en lançant dans le même temps la bouteille de 50 cl de lait de croissance avec un bouchon rose fuchsia et une étiquette où prédomine cette couleur (…) et en faisant éditer des encarts publicitaires également à fond rose a manifestement cherché à se placer dans le sillage d’un concurrent très bien implanté sur le marché du lait de croissance et à tirer profit des investissements réalisés par Cedilac afin que la clientèle associe cette couleur à son produit » (CA Paris, 25/11/98).

Posté par clairebouchenard à 14:53 - - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]