By morningstar.co.uk | morningstar.co.uk | Updated: 2022-12-27
Amazon.com Inc suffered a defeat at the European Court of Justice on Thursday in a dispute with luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin regarding intellectual property protection.
The online retail giant can be held responsible for third party trademark infringements under certain circumstances, the judges announced.
Louboutin's best-known goods are fine women's shoes with red soles. The French designer has registered the red colour of the outer sole as a protected trademark in the EU, among other regions.
However, Amazon regularly shows advertisements of shoes with red soles which, according to Louboutin, are put on the market by third parties without the designer's consent. The designer considers this to be an infringement of trademark rights by Amazon and therefore sued the company in Belgium and Luxembourg.
The sticking point was whether the operator of an online marketplace such as Amazon is directly liable for the infringement of trademark rights, even if it involves an advertisement by a third party. The ECJ has now confirmed this to be the case.
If the users of the website had the impression that the shoes were being sold in Amazon's name and on its account, it could be assumed that Amazon was using Louboutin's registered symbol itself.
This was the case, inter alia, if Amazon designed all advertisements on the website in a uniform manner, presented its own retailer logo also on the advertisements of third-party sellers and stored and shipped the shoes.
It is now up to the national courts to decide whether a trademark infringement has actually occurred in the specific case.