James Mellor QC and Max Keay appeared for the defendants, Amazon, in this trial of a trade mark dispute. The dispute was whether Amazon had infringed trade marks for “Beverly Hills Polo Club” by allowing goods branded under those marks to be listed on their US website in a way that made them visible to consumers in the UK and EU.
The goods in issue had been lawfully manufactured and marketed in the US by the US rights owner, but there was a split in the ownership of the trade mark rights between the US and the UK/EU.
One of the key issues in the dispute was whether listing of the products on Amazon’s US website at amazon.com was ‘targeted’ at consumers in the UK and EU so as to constitute infringement in the UK/EU. The claimants wanted a complete block on the visibility in the UK/EU of BHPC products from amazon.com.
Mr Justice Michael Green found that Amazon’s US website is not targeted at UK consumers. UK consumers seeking to buy from that site are guided to use the UK regional site at amazon.co.uk, but if those customers are determined to use the .com site then the fact that Amazon nevertheless strives to provide an easy customer experience to them does not touch the question of targeting. The court considered that Amazon had responded reasonably and responsibly to the unusual and difficult issue of split trade mark rights on these goods, and dismissed the claimants’ claims.