By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Online retailer Amazon.com may be deemed responsible for advertising of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes which found its way to its platform, Europe’s top court said in a preliminary ruling on Thursday.
The EU court said it was now up to two national courts to decide whether this was indeed the case.
Louboutin brought cases against Amazon in a Belgian and a Luxembourg court in 2019, saying the retailer regularly displayed advertisements for red-soled shoes put on the market without Louboutin’s consent.
Louboutin’s signature red sole is registered as a trademark within the EU. Both courts had sought the guidance of the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
In its ruling on Thursday, the EU court said Amazon, as an online sales platform, may be considered responsible for the intellectual property breaches involved in the advertisements of counterfeit products that feature Louboutin’s trademarked red sole. The court said the presentation of the advertisements may give users of its website the impression that Amazon – rather than a third-party seller – is responsible for the advertisements and benefiting from them.
“We will study the Court’s decision. Amazon makes it clear to customers who they are buying from when they are shopping in our stores by displaying seller information,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Thierry Van Innis, Louboutin’s lawyer, said the European court had followed the designer’s arguments “in every detail”.
“Amazon can be held accountable for the breaches as if the platform was itself the seller …. Amazon will be forced to change their model and stop misleading the public by mixing up their own and third-party offers,” he told Reuters.
Van Innis said Louboutin was not currently seeking financial compensation. “We’re not talking money at this stage. We want the breaches to stop,” he said.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett, Tassilo HummelEditing by Mark Potter and Leslie Adler)