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Amazon loses trademark fight

by on07 March 2024

UK Supreme court backs Beverly Hills Polo Club

Amazon has been dealt a blow by the UK Supreme Court, which has backed a ruling that the e-commerce giant ripped off UK trademarks by targeting British shoppers on its US website.

The case dates back to 2019, when Lifestyle Equities took Amazon to court in London, claiming the tech giant ripped off its registered trademarks in the UK for the words 'Beverly Hills Polo Club' and a matching logo used across various product categories.

At first, Lifestyle Equities' claim in England was thrown out. Still, the company chased an appeal, leading the Court of Appeal in London to rule in 2022 that Amazon's offers for selling. US-branded goods targeted consumers in the UK, and Amazon was guilty of trademark rip-off.

As a result, the Court of Appeal slapped an injunction on two Amazon defendants and allowed Lifestyle Equities to seek damages. Amazon ramped up the legal battle to the UK Supreme Court, hoping for a reversal of the previous ruling. However, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court tossed out Amazon's appeal.

Lord Briggs and Lord Kitchin delivered a joint judgment, backed by the whole court, confirming that Amazon's actions targeted consumers in the UK. The court found that Amazon showed US-branded goods on its US website and made them available for delivery to the UK.

The key point lies in the automatic inclusion of checkboxes on Amazon's website, which says "Deliver to the United Kingdom" when a user is detected to be based in the UK.

According to the Supreme Court, this feature counts as targeting the UK as a destination for US-branded goods. As a result of the Supreme Court's ruling, the injunction and order for an inquiry into damages issued by the Court of Appeal stay in force, signalling a huge victory for Lifestyle Equities.

This ruling sets a precedent for e-commerce platforms operating internationally, highlighting the importance of sticking to trademark laws and ensuring compliance with cross-border trade regulations.

Jemma Green, an intellectual property lawyer at Addleshaw Goddard, told Reuters that the ruling means that brand owners now have "far stronger rights" to stop website operators outside the UK from targeting consumers within the country.

Dennis Lee, an intellectual property partner at BDB Pitmans, said the ruling might open the door to similar legal actions against other online retailers.

He stressed that any website providing delivery services to the UK must now clearly state that it avoids "targeting" UK shoppers or checks that the goods being sold do not rip off UK trademarks.


Last modified on 07 March 2024
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