PARIS: The Court of Justice of the European Union cleared the way on Thursday for platforms to be held liable for the sale of counterfeits, ruling that Amazon could be considered to be promoting fake Louboutin products sold on its site by third parties.
The famous French shoemaker Louboutin, known for its red-soled pumps, had brought two appeals in 2019 in Luxembourg and Belgium against Amazon concerning the sale of counterfeit products on the site.
“Amazon itself makes use of the sign registered by Louboutin when the user of its site has the impression that it is Amazon who markets, in its name and on its behalf, pumps of the mark”, indicated the Court. of Justice of the European Union in a press release.
The CJEU does not settle the dispute. It is up to the national court to resolve the case in accordance with the Court’s decision. This decision binds, in the same way, the other national jurisdictions which would be seized of a similar problem.
“Welcoming the decision”, the luxury brand believes in a press release that “by deciding in favor of the position presented by (the designer) Christian Louboutin, the CJEU marks a further step in the fight against the offer to the sale of counterfeits on Amazon’s platforms and towards an increased responsibility of the platforms which participate in the promotion and distribution of such products”.
“This decision will better protect manufacturers and consumers against the scourge of counterfeiting,” he adds.
Contacted by AFP, Amazon said: “We will study the Court’s decision”.
“We are not going to stop our surveillance”
Counterfeiting in the luxury sector is a real challenge, and on Thursday morning when the Court’s judgment was announced, Louboutin said it had been congratulated “by a great brand”.
The CJEU considers “that such an operator can actually be considered to be himself using the sign identical to a European Union trade mark, appearing in the advertisement of a third-party seller on his online marketplace, when the normally informed and reasonably attentive user of his site has the impression that it is this operator who markets, in his name and for his own account, the infringing products in question”.
Amazon consistently displays its own listings and those of its third-party sellers and affixes an Amazon logo to all listings. The platform also offers “additional services to these third-party sellers in the context of the marketing of their products, consisting in particular in the storage and shipping of their products”, underlines the Court.
These are all circumstances that can make it difficult to distinguish between Amazon and third-party sellers, the Court considers, and “give the normally informed and reasonably observant user the impression that it is Amazon who is marketing, in its name and for its own account. , Louboutin products offered for sale by third-party sellers”.
“We are not going to stop our surveillance”, explains to AFP Xavier Ragot, legal director of Louboutin, “we have to wait for the dust to settle, we will see what will be done by the courts of Luxembourg and Brussels who will judge on the bottom”.
“The best we can hope for is that in the face of this (legal) risk, we have Amazon and others cleaning their homes before we find ourselves again under the influence of a lawsuit,” said he added.
For his part, the president of the Union of Manufacturers (Unifab), Christian Peugeot, considered that “from now on it is absolutely necessary for Amazon to play a more important and direct role in the fight against counterfeiting on its platforms, because, despite the numerous reports issued by companies to Amazon since 2016, many note the continued sale of counterfeits on its platforms.
“The mobilization of all actors is necessary to protect consumers and businesses from this characterized theft which is still too little punished”, judges Unifab.
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Sale of counterfeits: European justice paves the way for platform liability
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