Shoe brand Christian Louboutin has been at the center of several trademark lawsuits as it continues to defend its iconic red sole design, and the most recent one comes in the shape of a win against Amazon in the European Union (EU).
Apparently, the issue at hand was Amazon’s alleged failure to police its platform for counterfeit Louboutins, in addition to questionable advertising practices when promoting said products with targeted consumer ads.
In fact, the lawsuit filed by the Paris-based firm alleges that Amazon EU has repeatedly broken the law by promoting more than 100 product listings for counterfeit shoes in its French and German websites during March 25, 2018 and May 28, 2018, several of which featured as “shipped and sold by Amazon.”
Even worse, Louboutin claims that some of those listings featured as “Sponsored Products”, and so it asked a Brussels court to prohibit Amazon’s European arm from offering and selling “pure red soles [on] high-heeled shoes,” as it is a “well known trademark that Louboutin has used for more than 25 years around the world.”
Initially, the court ruled on favor of the shoe brand in March of this year, and while Amazon challenged the court’s preliminary decision claiming that they could only regulate the exact shade of Pantone red used by Louboutin and not any other unspecified shade, the court ruled against Amazon once again this past month in the basis that the difference between all shades of red are “insignificant in the eyes of consumers.”
Even further, the court also found Amazon to be liable even in instances when the counterfeit shoes were sold and shipped by third-parties, as EU case law states that liability “can be imputed to any person having played an active part in the commission of [a sale]” and who “could control it, directly or indirectly.”
With this in mind, Amazon will have to refrain from offering any infringing footwear on the EU sites, and will have to front a US$ 50 fine per day for non-compliance with a cap of just over US$55 million.
The decision comes just after another major victory for Louboutin in Europe, where the Court of Justice of the European Union determined that Louboutin’s red sole can have trademark protection as it is just a color that identifies a source.
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