Amazon Inc. learned the company will not be held liable for unknowingly carrying goods from sellers who were infringing on trademark rights of other entities. However, an advisor for the top court in Europe says the company should exercise more diligence in determining whether items submitted to them are legal.
The adviser expressed his opinion on Thursday in a case involving Coty, a cosmetic company based in the United States.
This is just one of the latest battles between luxury item companies who are trying to protect the exclusivity of their product against online marketplaces like ebay and Amazon.
The issue of what responsibility a platform has regarding items sold or messages transmitted via their platforms has taken center stage.
Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona is an advocate general for the European Union’s Court of Justice. The opinion expressed by Sanchez-Bordona comes after a German subsidiary to Coty took the company to court for stocking perfume that belonged to Coty but was being sold by third-party Amazon sellers.
Coty argued to the court that their trademark rights had been infringed upon and expressed their belief that Amazon should be held liable for the trademark infringement. The Court in Germany that originally heard the case turned to the Court of Justice for guidance.
The Court of Justice concluded that a company can not be held liable for trademark infringement if it did not know the products being sold were the trademarked property of another company.
Campos Sanchez-Bordona did conclude, however, that companies who take on the responsibility of distributing goods should diligently seek to confirm that products carried are not the property of someone other than the seller.
One of the key features offered to sellers by Amazon is their “Fulfilled by Amazon” service. The program allows third-party sellers to utilize the Amazon platform to make their items available for sale. Amazon covers the fulfillment and delivery of the products.
Amazon said through a statement that it will continue to fight for the trademark rights of others and do its part to stop the sale of counterfeit merchandise on the Amazon platform.
The original judge in the Luxemburg-based court is not obligated to follow the recommendation of the Court of Justice for the European Union. It is generally expected, however, the court will give its judgement in two to four months.