Amazon may breach trademark rights over fake Louboutin ads

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. retail / ˈri teɪl / (adj.) – relating to the practice of selling products directly to customers, rather than selling to stores

    The product’s retail price is reasonable.

  2. breach / britʃ / (v.) – to break or not follow what is asked by the law or an agreement

    The company breached the deal it made with its customers.

  3. trademark / ˈtreɪdˌmɑrk / (n.) – something, like a word, that is known and related to a specific company and can't be used by another company without permission

    Each product has a logo that the company uses as its trademark.

  4. counterfeit / ˈkaʊn tərˌfɪt / (adj.) – relating to something that looks almost the same as the real item to fool people

    The police caught the man who sold counterfeit jewelry.

  5. circumstance / ˈsɜr kəmˌstæns / (n.) – an event or condition that affects a situation

    The circumstances may determine whether he would stay or leave the company.


Read the text below.

Online retail giant Amazon could be held responsible for breaching luxury shoemaker Christian Louboutin’s trademark rights over the sale of counterfeit red-soled high-heeled shoes on its platform, the European Court of Justice ruled.

Third-party sellers on Amazon regularly advertise red-soled stilettos that are not made by Louboutin. The French designer brought cases against the company in Belgium and Luxembourg in 2019, arguing that he did not give his consent for these products to be put on the market.

Louboutin shoes’ red outer sole, for which they are known, is registered as an EU and Benelux trademark.

The EU’s top court said that users could mistakenly think that Amazon itself is selling shoes on behalf of Louboutin, noting that it may be the case when, for instance, Amazon displays its own logo on the third-party sellers’ ads, and when it stores and ships the shoes in question.

“These circumstances may indeed make a clear distinction difficult, and give the impression to the normally informed and reasonably attentive user that it is Amazon that markets — in its own name and on its own behalf,” the court said.

The luxury house said the court’s decision is “a victory for the protection of its know-how and creativity.”

“It initiated these proceedings to obtain recognition of Amazon’s responsibility for the offering for sale of counterfeit products on its platforms by third parties. It also brought this case to encourage Amazon to play a more direct role in the fight against counterfeiting on its platforms,” Maison Louboutin said in a statement.

The EU court said it’s now up to the local jurisdictions in Belgium and Luxembourg to determine whether users on the online marketplace could have been under the impression that ads did not come from third-party sellers but from Amazon itself.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • How would you feel if you were one of the customers who bought the counterfeit shoes? What would you do? Why? Discuss.
  • What do you think users of online marketplaces should do to avoid buying counterfeit products? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think online marketplaces are strict about the products sold on their platforms? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Would you still buy in an online marketplace even if it may have third-party sellers who sell counterfeit products? Why or why not? Discuss.