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January 4, 2023 - Amazon may be responsible for selling fake Christian Louboutin shoes, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled, sending two cases back to lower courts for final judgement.
The European Union’s top court said on December 22 that Amazon might confuse people by failing to distinguish between Louboutin and non-official sellers of the brand’s luxury red-soled shoe designs.
The Luxembourg-based ECJ can hear cases from national courts through the “preliminary ruling” system. In this case, courts in Belgium and Luxembourg sought the top EU judges’ view on whether online companies such as Amazon can be held directly responsible for third-party advertisements that infringe registered trademarks on their platforms.
Louboutin said the platform’s selling model was “misleading the public.” Louboutin’s lawyer Thierry Van Innis told Reuters, “Amazon can be held accountable for the breaches as if the platform was itself the seller.”
Nike agreed to a pilot project in 2017 in exchange for Amazon policing counterfeit and third-party sales. “Nike officials were disappointed the deal with Amazon didn’t eliminate counterfeits,” reported the Wall Street Journal’s Khadeeja Safdar. Nike pulled the pilot after two years.
Third-party vendors supply almost six in 10 items (58 per cent) sold on Amazon’s “Everything Store.”
In 2020, Amazon launched a global Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) dedicated to bringing counterfeiters attempting to list fake products in its store to justice. The CCU says it blocked three million phoney products in 2021: “We are working hard to disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support.
Amazon says it will study the ECJ’s decision.