02. Nov 16

CJEU: Marketplace operators liable for counterfeiting and plagiarism

Product counterfeiting is responsible for enormous economic damage. According to a ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), legal action can be taken against marketplace operators who allocate selling areas for counterfeit products.

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte, Köln, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, München und Stuttgart führen aus: Year after year, the economy sustains enormous damage as a result of plagiarized and counterfeit products. At the same time, transactions involving pirated products are on the rise globally and already make up 2.5 per cent of world trade according to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

Following a recent ruling of the European Court of Justice from July 7, 2016, it is set to become easier to take legal action against infringements of trademark law (Az.: C-494/15). As in the case of those operating sales platforms, actual marketplace operators can also be compelled to put an end to trademark violations committed by traders.

In the case in question, several manufacturers and distributors became aware of the fact that counterfeit versions of their products were being sold at the Prague Market Hall. They demanded the operator of the marketplace ensure that no more sales areas be let to traders with counterfeit products. In doing so, they made reference to the fact that those operating online marketplaces can be forced to put a stop to trademark infringements committed by traders as well as take measures to prevent subsequent violations.

The case ultimately ended up before the CJEU in Luxembourg. The Court held that it makes no difference whether the marketplace is a physical location or online. Thus, those operating a physical marketplace can also be compelled to put an end to trademark violations committed by traders and take preventative action. It went on to say that the measures need to be effective, proportionate, fair and act as a deterrent without creating barriers to legitimate trade.

The CJEU’s ruling will make it easier for the manufacturers of branded goods to prohibit any further distribution of counterfeit and plagiarized products.

Beyond this, legal action in the form of injunction suits and claims for damages can be taken against companies and traders that violate trademark rights. Lawyers who are versed in the field of intellectual property law can advise on matters pertaining to trademark law, patent law, copyright law and competition law.

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