You have had a rather unusually long day and want to slacken a little, so you reach out to your phone and start browsing various options on what to buy. A mouth-watering dish using the local food delivery app seems the best option for instant gratification, but a sense of guilt overshadows cos you promised yourself at the beginning of the year to burn that extra calories. So, you move on, and your attention for the next one-hour falls on the new collection of clothes, a whole range of cosmetic items and perfumes on various online marketplace. As time passes by nothing seems to satiate the shopaholic genes in your cells, until, out of the blue an ad pops up, offering heavy discounts up to 80% from a reputed perfume brand that you have heard but haven’t tried, the offer is irresistible, your heart buzzes to go for it, and you click, only to find out that the perfume that you have been eagerly waiting for, when it arrived, is not giving the fragrance that the online reviews have been raving about. Sounds familiar?
Welcome to the online world of counterfeit products. You have been duped with a smell-alike perfume. Sale of smell-alike or counterfeit perfumes or for that matter any product on online marketplace is a reality and is ramping up at a fast pace. Research says that more than 50% of the perfumes purchased online are not original. World over, various governments are working towards introducing bills and passing them to thwart the menace of counterfeit goods both for online platforms and in general commerce. There have been several litigation suits filed as part of anti-counterfeiting, which in a way is also interconnected with trademark infringement of reputed brands. In 2019, the European Union trademark Court dismissed the appeal filed by EQUIVALENZA RETAIL in the context of its smell-alike business “EQUIVALENZA”, which was alleged for infringing various perfume trademarks of the firms “HUGO BOSS”, “GUCCI” and “LACOSTE”.
Another interesting litigation suit is of the German arm of beauty company Coty – which owns the Davidoff perfume brand. Coty went to court in a bid to stop Amazon storing and delivering the unlicensed products in their online platform. The allegation levelled by Coty was that Amazon had violated its trademark rights by stocking its Davidoff perfume for third-party sellers and should be held responsible for such practices. However, in 2020, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that “mere storage” of trademark-infringing goods was not the same as trademark infringement itself and Amazon “have not themselves offered the goods for sale or put them on the market”.
The next time you are browsing your phone and want to shop for perfume, don’t be compulsive when your heart buzzes, but allow your brain to send the right synaptic signals, as you do not want to go down that road again of being counterfeited. Happy Online Shopping.