Amazon loses appeal in cross-border trademark infringement case

Amazon has lost an appeal against a 2022 ruling against its practice of targeting UK shoppers on its US website.

On Wednesday, the UK Supreme Court upheld a ruling from the London Court of Appeal that found the company was infringing on UK trademarks.

It was delivering a verdict on whether goods marketed and sold on a foreign website were identical to goods for which trade marks are registered in the EU or UK, and in what circumstances would the marketing and selling of such goods infringe the EU/UK trade marks?

The retail giant was first sued in 2019 by Lifestyle Equities, the company which owns the UK and EU trademarks for the Beverly Hills Polo Club brand. It argued that corresponding trademarks in the USA are owned by a commercially unrelated entity, which produces goods identical to those for which Lifestyle's trademarks are registered in the UK and EU.

While Amazon denied that giving UK shoppers the ability to purchase goods from the US site infringed any trademarks, Lifestyle argued that even if the marketing of the USA branded goods were not targeted at consumers in the UK and EU, Amazon nonetheless infringed Lifestyle's rights in the UK and EU by selling and delivering the goods through its USA website to consumers in the UK and EU.

The UK High Court had dismissed Lifestyle's claims, but the Court of Appeal overturned this decision and granted an injunction against Amazon which the company subsequently appealed.

Two years later, the Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed Amazon’s appeal. It holds that Amazon targeted consumers in the UK by displaying the USA branded goods on its USA website and marking them available for shipment to the UK, which in turn infringed the UK and EU trade marks.

The injunction and order relating to an enquiry as to damages made by the Court of Appeal therefore remain in place, the Supreme Court said in a statement.

The ruling could have a major impact on online retail, with a precedent now being set that they will need to check that their platforms do not automatically target UK shoppers.

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