Who: Amazon and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)
Where: The EU
When: 2 April 2020
Law stated as at: 2 April 2020
The CJEU have ruled in favour of e-commerce giant Amazon in a landmark case for trademark infringement. The judgment on 2 April 2020 ruled that Amazon is not liable for unknowingly stocking trademark-infringing goods on behalf of third-party sellers.
Cosmetics company Coty, who own a license for the EU trade mark Davidoff, had accused Amazon of trademark infringement for selling and dispatching ‘Davidoff Hot Water’ perfume via third-party sellers, without Coty’s consent.
However, the statement made by the CJEU confirmed that: “The mere storage by Amazon, in the context of its online marketplace (‘AmazonMarketplace’), of goods which infringe trade mark rights does not constitute an infringement by Amazon of those trade mark rights.”
The CJEU added: “A company which, on behalf of a third-party seller, stores goods without being aware that they infringe trade mark rights does not itself use that trade mark, so long as it does not pursue, like the seller, the aim of offering the goods for sale or putting them on the market.”
As spokesman for Amazon welcomed the judgement and emphasised that the company “continues to invest heavily in fighting bad actors on our store and is committed to driving counterfeits to zero.”
Why this matters:
This judgment marks another milestone in the fight between traditional retail and e-commerce and will be seen by many as a victory for online retail platforms against luxury brand owners. In a blow to the latter, this case seems to set a precedent limiting the responsibility of online retail platforms for the sale and storage of counterfeits.
However, it’s worth noting that the case still has to be handed back to Germany’s federal courts and other remedies remain available to tackle the sale of counterfeit goods.