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Amazon may be liable for trademark infringement

In a dispute with luxury shoe designer Louboutin, internet giant Amazon has suffered a defeat before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court in Luxembourg announced today that, under certain circumstances, Amazon can be held liable for trademark infringement by third parties.

Louboutin’s most famous products are the elegant red-soled women’s shoes. The Frenchman has registered the red color of the outsole as a protected trademark in the European Union, among other places.

The designer sees rights infringement

However, Amazon regularly displays ads for red-soled shoes, which Louboutin claims are marketed by third parties without its consent. The designer also sees his trademark rights being infringed by Amazon, and has therefore filed a lawsuit against the company in Belgium and Luxembourg.

The crux of the matter was whether an online marketplace operator like Amazon was directly liable for trademark infringement, even if a third party reported it. The European Court of Justice has now confirmed this.

If users of the site had the impression that the pumps were being sold on Amazon’s behalf, it could be assumed that Amazon was using the same registered Louboutin brand.

This is the case, among other things, when Amazon designs all advertisements on the website in a uniform manner, also presents its retailer’s logo on advertisements of third-party sellers and stores and sends out shoes. It is up to the national courts to decide whether trademark infringement actually occurred in the specific case.

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