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E.U. Court Says Online Marketplaces Can Be Held Responsible Over Counterfeit Goods

     
4:47 pm on Jul 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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E.U. Court Says Online Marketplaces Can Be Held Responsible Over Counterfeit Goods [guardian.co.uk]
Online shopping sites such as eBay may be liable for trademark infringements if they play an "active role" in promoting counterfeit goods, Europe's top court ruled today.


In an eagerly awaited ruling with huge implications for e-commerce, the European court of justice in Luxembourg said national courts could order online retailers to stop such infringements and prevent similar incidents in the future.

In today's final verdict, the full panel of EU judges said it was the right of national courts to order companies such as eBay "to take measures intended not only to bring to an end infringements of intellectual property rights, but also to prevent further infringements of that kind".


The court said in a statement: "When the operator has played an 'active role' it cannot rely on the exemption from liability which EU law confers, under certain conditions, on online service providers such as operators of internet marketplaces."

5:31 pm on July 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I actually think they are right on this. But, it does depend on their definition of "active role".
Companies such as Ebay and others have known for a long time about infringing goods but turned a blind eye because they were still making money.
I think the rules should be made very clear so its not abused.
5:50 pm on July 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I did a search for a Rolex on google, yahoo and bing and found links leading to pages with counterfeits on all three. Does that mean the search engines actively helped me find counterfeit goods in the eyes of the law? I couldn't have found them otherwise really...

I think this will/should extend beyond just shopping sites.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 5:50 pm (utc) on Jul 12, 2011]

5:50 pm on July 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Kudos to the EU court. The next step should be to go after credit card companies for the very same reason. When a customer notifies a credit card company that an online business deals with counterfeit goods, they should not ignore it.
10:08 pm on July 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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LOL - thats got to be ebay bust then?
12:40 am on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Depends on the definition of "active role" though. If they know somebody is doing it, but refuse to cut them off. That's one thing. But if they actually expect them to figure out who's doing it and who isn't... I think that's sort of over the top. I mean... "Prevent further infringements"? So an outfit is pumping out bootlegs in some factory in another country. Law enforcement in that country doesn't have to do anything, but the responsibility falls to eBay to somehow figure out what's fake and what isn't? How would they even do that?
9:28 am on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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As a collector of sports memorabilia, I can't tell you how many times I've reported listings of counterfeit goods I come across. Often times sending in evidence to show why it's counterfeit. I've never seen a listing pulled.
10:33 am on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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From the rather brief article in this morning's paper the example of "active role" given was eBay bidding on Adsense for trademark terms like Rolex.

Presumably by advertising that Rolexes are for sale they are implicitly warrenting that what the sellers call Rolexes really are what they say. (Remember we are talking European law here)
12:41 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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eBay is fairly agreesive about possible copyright violations. They often accept the word of another party with no actual proof. I had an item removed by eBay due to another company allegedly holding a copyright on a similar item. This comapany is not pursuing in court for any type of infringement and only contacts eBay to remove them.

I stopped selling the item because I do not have time to deal with this type thing. The company that is saying they hold the copyright is not confident enough to actually pursue it in court and only pursues it on eBay because eBay will actually remove the items in question, even though it is doubtful there is an actual violation.