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eBay Cleared By Court In Jewelry Counterfeit Case

     
5:35 pm on Jul 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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eBay Cleared By Court In Jewelry Counterfeit Case [nytimes.com]
In a long-awaited decision in a four-year-old trademark lawsuit against eBay brought by jeweler Tiffany and Co., Judge Richard Sullivan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled Monday that the online retailer does not bear a legal responsibility to prevent its users from selling counterfeit items on its marketplace.

The decision in the closely watched case, which will likely be appealed by Tiffany, reaffirms that Internet companies do not have to actively filter their sites for copyrighted or trademarked material. Rather, they can rely on intellectual property-holders to monitor the sites, as long as the retailers take material down when rights-holders complain. The decision marks a dramatic turn in eBay’s recent courtroom fortunes. The ruling comes a week after a French judge ordered eBay to pay $60 million to French luxury goods maker LVMH, the maker of Louis Vuitton handbags. In April, a German appeals court ruled that eBay must take preventative measures against the sale of counterfeit Rolex watches.

Earlier story
eBay Gets Hit For Allowing Sale Of 'Fakes' [webmasterworld.com]

8:11 pm on July 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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That's a pretty major ruling if you ask me! Does that mean the number of fakes on eBay will now increase after this announcement?

Rather, they can rely on intellectual property-holders to monitor the sites, as long as the retailers take material down when rights-holders complain.

There goes a new Internet marketing position. That will probably require at least one full time person and who knows how many remote operators. ;)

8:24 pm on July 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The decision in the closely watched case, which will likely be appealed by Tiffany, reaffirms that Internet companies do not have to actively filter their sites for copyrighted or trademarked material.

This seems the right decision, as how is a site supposed to be able to handle the case of private parties who wish to resell branded merchandise?

It is also in-line with the logic behind placing the burden of protecting brand sanctity with the brand owners.

Clearly, if a company can identify fraud regarding their brand, it should have a right to ask and have the offending item(s) removed from a venue and the venue operators should respond in kind to such requests.

Tiffany should not bring on ill will toward its own brand by appealing this too far.

-Commerce

8:34 pm on July 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A wise ruling. As I said before, holding eBay responsible for those selling whatever would almost be like holding the phone company responsible. eBay makes it clear they are not the seller. eBay makes reasonable efforts to identify both the buyer and the seller to each other--and any other parties who might legitimately be interested in the transaction. It can refuse any buyers and sellers it wishes, but it's not obligated to do Tiffany's job for them.
4:44 am on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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A French court finally made a ruling regarding the net that reflects at least a minor understanding of the digital age! *popping champagne cork*
1:19 pm on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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IanKelley, this was not a French court, this was an American court -- the French court just fined Ebay $60m in a similar case.
3:41 pm on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This is the right choice. I couldn't tell you the difference between a real rolex and a replica, and I don't see how eBay could either (especially considering the volume coming through their site). Perhaps a certificate of authenticity, which could then also be forged?

Oh, those crazy Germans. What are they hoping to accomplish?

7:17 pm on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Oops, that's what I get for smartphone forum browsing.
7:49 am on July 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Very recently, I read somewhere that LV has successfully sued eBay over something. And has been ordered to pay damages. Why was LV successful and Tiffany not successful? Will Tiffany have higher chances if it had sued eBay on the grounds that it had profitted from sales of counterfeit rather than suing eBay for not monitoring counterfeits from being sold on the site?
8:40 am on July 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think the Internet should be used for checking duplicate stuff. Every product can come up with a unique number and the customer can verify it with the website by entering the number. Each number can inform the product availability.

In short, customer and company should interact to verify the originality not ebay.

10:15 am on July 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Products with "unique numbers" can be faked all day long. The question is not whether the item is legtimate, but whether the site offering it is REQUIRED to determine legitimacy BEFORE OFFERING... and eBay is not on that business.
2:25 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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It should be clear enough when purchasing any of the items on the above list only cost a fraction of what the real item retails for. If people want to buy the knock-off items, they'll find them on craigslist, local purse parties, foreign owned nail salons, etc!

Ebay or any other company shouldn't be liable, but the purchaser should use common sense when making the purchase.

Authenticity can be confirmed on any of the products listed above by taking them into a retail location.

Chadwick