Advertising “fake” red-soled shoes that might infringe on designer Christian Louboutin’s EU trademark could result in Amazon being held liable. On Amazon, unaffiliated third parties are marketing red-soled high heels that are similar to Louboutin’s without his permission.
Amazon could be held liable for any trademark infringement, according to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The platform’s selling strategy, according to Louboutin, “misleads the public.” Amazon claims that it will research the choice.
The preliminary judgment by the court in Luxembourg clears the way for Amazon to possibly be held accountable for advertisements for any fake goods sold on its website.
Amazon and shoemaker Louboutin, whose high heels typically cost at least £600, have been at odds for a while.
In 2019, Louboutin filed two lawsuits against the company in Belgian and Luxembourgian courts, alleging that Amazon routinely ran advertisements for red-soled shoes on its marketplace without Louboutin’s permission.
The Court of Justice of the European Union was consulted by the two courts (CJEU).
The CJEU ruled on Thursday that Amazon might be held accountable for alleged intellectual property violations discovered in the advertisements for knockoff shoes sporting the fabled red sole.
The CJEU press office told the BBC that users of the platform might believe that Amazon, and not the third-party seller, is marketing the product “in its name and on its behalf.”
The European Union’s Court of Justice ruled that two national courts in Belgium and Luxembourg would now have the authority to determine whether this was the case.
According to the CJEU, the platform also provides “additional services” to these third-party sellers, including “the storage and shipping of their products.”
The trademarked red sole has been used unlawfully by Amazon “for products identical” to those made by Louboutin, according to the company, which “insists, in particular, on the fact that the disputed ads are an integral part of Amazon’s commercial communication.”
Louboutin’s attorney, Thierry Van Innis, claimed that the CJEU had “in every detail” followed the designer’s arguments.
“Amazon can be held accountable for the breaches as if the platform was itself the seller,” Mr Van Innis told news agency Reuters, after the court ruling.
“Amazon will be forced to change their model and stop misleading the public by mixing up their own and third-party offers.”
According to Van Innis, Louboutin is not currently looking for money: “At this point, money is not a topic. We want an end to the breaches, “said he.
The case contributes to a larger discussion on trademark infringement on online marketplaces and the challenge users face in finding the genuine seller.
According to intellectual property attorney Fabian Klein of the law firm Pinsent Masons, platform providers should review the design of their website to make sure that it is obvious to the general public where the offers originated.
“If a platform is just a market place, without its own offerings – like eBay – nothing will change,” Klein said.
“But for platforms that mix own offerings and third-party offerings, they should consider – from a trade mark perspective – whether they want to create a different look and feel, or other clear differentiations.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)