The General Advocate of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled out this Thursday that a platform like Amazon is responsible for the sale of counterfeit products by third parties, as it is considered an intermediary in Internet purchases.
“Despite the fact that it integrates a set of services in its offer, from the publication of sales offers to the shipment of products, this internet intermediary [referido a Amazon] cannot be held directly responsible for infringements of the rights of trademark owners committed on its platform through third-party offers,” said the general counsel Maciej Szpunar.
The case responds to the complaint of the French shoe brand Louboutin, whose best-known products are high-heeled shoes for women with red outer soles, a product for which they are famous. This company, registered as a trademark of the European Union and a Benelux brand, denounced that advertisements for shoes with red soles appear regularly on Amazon’s internet sites and that, in their opinion, they refer to products that have been marketed without their consent. consent.
The footwear company, through two actions brought in Luxembourg and Belgium against Amazon, had alleged that the e-commerce giant had used, without its consent, “a sign identical to the brand it owns for products or services identical to those for which that trademark is registered” and insists on the fact that the controversial advertisements form an integral part of Amazon’s commercial communication.
In his opinion, Szpunar states that Amazon markets products, but in this case it plays only an intermediary role and “cannot be held directly responsible for infringements of the rights of trademark owners committed on its platform through third party offers”. It adds that “despite the fact that third-party seller and Amazon offers are uniformly presented on the e-marketplace and all include the Amazon reputable reseller logo, the ads always specify whether these products are sold by third-party sellers or directly by Amazon.
According to the attorney general, direct liability can only be attributed to the operator of an electronic commerce platform “when it uses a sign identical to a trademark”, while in the case of Amazon its advertisements always specify whether the products are marketed by third-party sellers or directly from the platform.
Szpunar has stressed that the mere fact that Amazon’s advertisements and those of third-party sellers coexist cannot lead to a “normally informed and reasonably attentive” user perceiving the signs included in the advertisements of third-party sellers as an integral part of the Amazon business communication. “The same happens with the complementary services of assistance, storage and shipping of products that bear a sign identical to a brand, for which Amazon has also actively contributed in the preparation and publication of offers,” he added. .
Although the opinions of the General Counsel are not binding, they are They usually coincide with the sentences that end up being handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Union.