Amazon has won a legal battle against the cosmetics firm behind Davidoff after the ecommerce giant listed unlicensed bottles of the perfume on its platform.
The German arm of Coty, which owns the Davidoff brand, complained that Amazon had infringed its trademark by stocking the perfume from third-party sellers.
Coty initially brought the case before German courts, but it was then referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
However, the ECJ today ruled that Amazon’s “mere storage” of goods that infringed trademarks did not constitute an offence.
“A company which, on behalf of a third-party seller, stores goods without being aware that they infringe trade mark rights does not itself use that trade mark, so long as it does not pursue, like the seller, the aim of offering the goods for sale or putting them on the market,” the court said in its judgement.
The case centred on bottles of Davidoff Hot Water perfume that were posted for sale on Amazon Marketplace — which allows third-party sellers to make use of Amazon’s listing and distribution services in exchange for a fee.
Coty said it had not given consent for the bottles to be sold in the EU.
The ruling will likely set a precedent for the liability of ecommerce firms in cases involving third-party sellers.
But Dawn Osborne, partner at law firm McCarthy Denning, warned the judgement only addressed the narrow issue of storing goods that infringed trademarks.
“Since online platforms including Amazon often provide other services as well as storage, it remains to be seen whether the answer on liability will be different if the entire role that an online platform plays in any sale is brought in question before a court,” she said.
In a statement Amazon welcomed the verdict, adding that it “continues to invest heavily in fighting bad actors on our store and is committed to driving counterfeits to zero”.