Internet retailer responsible for trademark infringement?

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Amazon

The Send By Amazon program allows sellers to store their products in Amazon logistics centers.

(Photo: AFP)

Luxembourg Amazon could increasingly be held responsible for trademark infringements by partners in the future. An Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Thursday in an opinion held that a company is not exempt under EU law from liability, if it is actively involved in the distribution of goods. This is the case, for example, for goods supplied by Amazon under the Amazon Shipping Program. Amazon should therefore check the distribution of third-party goods, whether they do not violate trademark rights.

Internet traders could not simply shirk responsibility and control the legality of products sold on their platforms, European Court of Justice Prosecutor Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona said Thursday. Traders who have no knowledge of trademark infringements could not be held responsible for the storage of such third-party products. However, they are not exempted from liability if they are actively involved in the sale of those goods, as is the case with the "Amazon mail-order" program.

This program allows sellers to store their products in Amazon logistics centers. The goods are then packaged and shipped by Amazon after an order.

The background of the report is a legal dispute in Germany. In this, the company Coty Germany has sued several companies of the Amazon Group for injunctive relief and damages, because it had determined through a test buyer that is sold by third parties on the website Amazon.de without permission, the perfume "Davidoff Hot Water". However, permission would actually be necessary as Coty Germany holds a license to the perfume-registered mark "Davidoff".

A final ECJ ruling on the case is expected within the next few months. On this basis, the competent Federal Court will then decide on a case-by-case basis. He had asked the ECJ for questions on basic EU law.

Amazon pointed out on Thursday that, according to the appraiser, there could also be exceptions to the liability. This could be the case, for example, if the company concerned provided the funds necessary to detect infringements.

"Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products, and by 2018 alone, we've invested more than $ 400 million to fight fraud, including counterfeiting, and ensure that our policies are adhered to," a spokesperson said Thursday. "We take action against anyone who tries to improperly trade in our store." This included, for example, the termination of accounts and the retention of funds.

The case is one of many fights by luxury goods companies against online platforms like Amazon and eBay, which in turn oppose Internet sales restrictions. The luxury goods manufacturers, however, fear for their exclusivity and their brands. The focus is also on the question of the extent of the responsibility of the Internet platforms for the products that are sold there. For Amazon, the "Shipped by Amazon" program, which involves storing, packaging, and shipping products from other vendors, is an integral part of the business model. Amazon said it would take action against illegal products on its platform and take a lot of money into it.

More: Many well-known online platforms fulfill the basic data protection regulation only inadequately. The providers urgently need to rework, calls State Secretary Billen.

The Handelsblatt expert call

(TagToTranslate) Amazon (t) Trademark Law (t) ECJ (t) Opinion (t) Litigation (t) Mail order (t) Distribution (e) E-Commerce (t) Legal area (t) Unfair competition (t) Internet companies (t) European Court of Justice (t) Coty (t) Davidoff (t) Mail order companies (t) Retail

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