In a marketing move now deemed likely to mislead the consumer, Amazon diverted consumer searches for ‘Lush’ products to those unconnected with the beauty brand.
The court ruled in favour of the beauty brand’s claim that this violated Lush’s intellectual property.
High Court judge John Baldwin QC said: “I do not think Amazon can escape from the conclusion that it has used the Lush sign in the course of trade.”
What’s the impact?
The ruling noted that Lush has “an image which it says it wishes to preserve and it has taken the decision not to allow its goods to be sold on Amazon because of the damage that it perceives there would be to that reputation.”
Simon Chapman, partner in the legal firm who represented Lush, suggested the ruling has implications for retail of the wider beauty industry.
“There is no doubt that many online retailers will need to reconsider their approach with regards the promotion of and marketing activity in support of alternative products.”
Baldwin stated that Amazon rode “roughshod over intellectual property rights”. In his judgement, he took into account that consumer engagement with brand identity is a particularly key motivator of sales in the beauty industry.
Brand over brawn
The ruling notes that Amazon had wrongly “treated trademarks such as Lush as no more than a generic indication of a class of goods in which the consumer might have an interest”.
Lush emphasised the importance of its brand identity in a statement responding to the ruling.
“We have built worldwide recognition in our trade marks and patented products so that our customers know when they are buying Lush products,” the brand said.
“We work hard to maintain our ethical integrity in all aspects of our business. Lush is our house mark and our business is dependent upon it. We will always protect our name.”