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Amazon loses trademark appeal in Supreme Court over targeting UK shoppers: Cassandra Hill comments

Posted on 7 March 2024

Cassandra Hill, Partner and Head of IP Enforcement at Mishcon de Reya, has provided her thoughts on the news that Amazon has lost an appeal against a ruling that it had infringed UK trademarks by targeting British consumers on its US website. The ruling is a potentially important judgment for ecommerce platforms operating internationally.

She commented: "The Supreme Court's ruling has provided clear direction on what amounts to 'targeting' within the context of advertisements and offers for sale of goods on a retail website and when this will amount to trade mark infringement in the UK in cross-border internet sales.  This is welcome news for brand owners and licensees who operate their business on a licensing basis to ensure that they can enforce against any encroachment on their operational territories.

"In its judgment, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Amazon's appeal and determined that the promotional content and sales offers complained of on Amazon's US website targeted UK consumers and therefore constituted the use of Lifestyle Equities' trade marks within the UK (and the EU), thereby infringing those marks. Despite the website's .com domain and its apparent US focus, the Court found that the offers were targeted at the UK market. This was evidenced by several factors: the messages on the landing and subsequent pages offering to deliver the goods to the UK, specifying which of the goods could be shipped to the UK and a 'review your order' page which offered to sell goods to a consumer with a UK address, with UK delivery times and the option to pay in GBP. Although prices and shipping costs were default displayed in US dollars on Amazon's website, the Court concluded that the advertisements and search page results were clearly informing UK consumers that Amazon would facilitate the shipping of the items to the UK.

"The Supreme Court refused to opine on whether products would infringe if they were sold and delivered into the UK where there had been no targeted advertising and offers for sale as it did not arise in the circumstances of this case and they said that the case law on this point (the CJEU decision in Blomqvist v Rolex) did not provide a sufficiently detailed description of the underlying facts for the Supreme Court to form a reliable view (despite the Court of Appeal having found that products in this scenario would infringe). This may therefore be an issue to be resolved in a future case."

Related coverage:

Global Legal Post
Commercial Dispute Resolution

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