EU court says Amazon may be liable for fake Louboutin ads

Online retail giant Amazon could be held responsible for advertising counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes, if a preliminary ruling by the top EU court is upheld.

The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said that Amazon's inclusion of product listings for shows that used the distinctive red soles trademarked by Louboutin – without the fashion brand's consent – means that Amazon may be liable for infringement.

That runs counter to the view of an advocate general advising the CJEU, who suggested earlier this year that while the online retailer makes his type of activity technically feasible, it should not be held directly liable for infringements taking place on its platform as a result of commercial offerings by third parties.

The CJEU said the way the listings are presented may give users of its website the impression that Amazon rather than a third party is responsible for the ad and benefiting from any sales.

That's not the end of the story however, as the original complaint will now return to national courts in Luxembourg and Belgium for further judgment as it is "ultimately for the referring courts to assess whether that is the case."

Louboutin originally filed suit against Amazon in 2019, claiming that the company regularly displays on its websites advertisements for shoes that infringe its trademarks, and is playing an active role in allowing the infringement to take place and "does not merely provide a neutral service."

It won the early rounds in the disputes, which were then referred to the CJEU.

"Amazon can be held accountable for the breaches as if the platform was itself the seller," said Louboutin's counsel Thierry Van Innis to news agency Reuters. "Amazon will be forced to change their model and stop misleading the public by mixing up their own and third-party offers."

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