back to article Judge sides with eBay in fake jewelry spat

A federal judge has sided with eBay in its long-running legal battle with jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. In 2004, Tiffany sued eBay for trademark infringement, claiming the online auctioneer failed to prevent the sale of fake Tiffany jewelry on its site, and today, Judge Richard Sullivan of the US District Court in Manhattan …


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  1. Adam Foxton


    eBay is clearly in the right here? Think of the precedent Tiffany are setting just to save themselves a little trouble!

    "US Government ordered to be more proactive finding Terrorists" and suddenly everyone's being hauled out of their car if they look even slightly shifty!

    Or a government could introduce some sort of ridiculous legislation to protect children from another failed governmental "rehabillitation of criminals" system... Oh, wait. That's in the El Reg headlines today as well...

    Anyway, eBay have always maintained this policy and given the huge number of auctions they do pull down it looks like they're sticking to it.

    I wonder what would happen if it was a "Rolex Replica" or "Designed to look like a Rolex"? Surely Rolex couldn't do anything about that?

  2. Kevin

    Where could this lead?

    The decision that a website is not responsible for proactively monitoring the trademark infringements taking place on its site is huge. I bet Google wishes this had been decided regarding Viacom and YouTube

  3. Neoc


    I can just see Tiffany's hoped-for ruling applied IRL:

    "Landlords sued because tenants selling illegal goods. Manufacturers state landlords should have been more pro-active in checking shop-keepers' wares."


    OTOH, I *could* understand Tiffany requesting they receive the fees paid to eBay by the sellers of fake items (once the items were proven to be fake, of course). eBay should not *profit* from the sales of fakes.

  4. Steven Knox


    This decision is wholly irrelevant to Viacom vs YouTube.

    TM != (C)

  5. Anonymous from Mars
    Thumb Up


    For once, I'm glad eBay won something. The judge must have been competent. This case should have been common sense for two reasons:

    -Trademark owners must defend their trademark.

    -Content posted by users on websites is the responsibility of the users.

  6. William Bronze badge

    I disagree

    Ebay is not a landlord. It is a marketplace. And just like any other market place, it should have market inspectors.

  7. Ben Gibson
    Thumb Down

    The other side of the coin

    I can see why everyone is siding with eBay on this. It seems stupid by any real means to investigate every auction put up. As Neoc said how would landlords be responsible for what the shop on their land was selling?

    But it must be kept in mind that rather then thinking that this whole 'people sell fake/ripoffs of trademarked goods is bad and unfortunate', they don't actually give a crap, much like Youtube, great though it is its basically making money off of peoples willingness to break the law and piss all over trademark and copyright laws. Not saying a good deal of both of those don't deserve pissing over but then maybe some people in a position of power and distribution should give a shit about crime rather then how much money that crime brings them.

    And not because I think copyright laws and trademark laws are good and just and should be upheld just because if your hiding behind the law, and at the same time benefiting from crime your hiding from then you should be removed from your position.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come to Europe

    Tiffany's should come over to Europe and sue eBay here. Works for everyone else !!!!

  9. Parax

    Obvious Fix

    To me the fix for this is so friggin obvious its stupid...

    Certain Brand names can only be used in a sale if a serial number (authenticity Number) is presented with the sale (not published), These Numbers get automatically sent to the Brand Name Owner who can verify if the Numbers are Legitimate, and if that 'item' has been traded too many times, ie copies have the same serial number, If so the Brand name owner requests ebay remove said item.

    Easy Solution.

  10. Paul
    Paris Hilton

    I thought that

    Under UK law at least, Auctioneers were responsible for ensuring that goods sold through thair auction houses were accurately described, which is why the likes of Sotheby’s have a staff of well paid experts on hand.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    "...just like any other market place, it should have market inspectors."

    Over this side of the Pond, Trading Standards Officers are publicly funded. Market halls are not obliged to police their franchises for dodgy knockoffs, nor are they liable for infringements of any law by the traders who rent space from them.

    Do we really want our Governments pouring torrents of cash into actively policing eBay for TM infringements? Or would we rather they acted on information?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Foxton

    Just try selling a 1970s Japanese copy of a Rickenbacker guitar or bass on eBay, whether or not you put "copy of Rickenbacker" in the title or description. Despite the fact that Ric did nothing about these when they were sold new, they make it very difficult for any to be sold second-hand.

  13. Lyndon Hills

    @Come to Europe

    In the UK we have Trading Standards laws. In a regular physical market you aren't allowed to sell fake goods, and there are trading standards officers who will enforce this. This would include car boot sales (closest approximation of eBay I can think of). I think however that if fake goods are found, then the individual vendor is liable, and there is no case against the owner of the field or wherever the sale is taking place. Aren't e-Bay the equivalent of the field owner?

    not that I am a fan of e-Bay, in any way shape or form.

  14. Stuart Halliday

    Get off their backsides?

    Quite why all the major companies don't hire someone in their company to scan the Internet and daily hunt for counterfeit goods being sold. Not as if there is a huge number of auction sites.

    There are thousands of dodgy goods on sale on eBay all damaging their brand names, so you'd think they'd do something about it.

    If they got themselves together with eBay and made an agreement to be able to contact eBay quickly to get dodgy goods withdrawn then we'd see much less crap on offer.

    I tried to buy a microphone last week and the huge amounts of counterfeit Sony goods on open sale was amazing.

    True enough - eBay is the the 21st century equivalent of the Glasgow Barra Lands.

  15. David Rollinson
    Thumb Up

    @Lyndon Hills

    Good analogy; I was just thinking of the car-boot-sale myself.

    As ever, "caveat emptor".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How can eBay be expected to spot all fakes?

    Ebay do remove auctions when they have it reported as being a fake, I have known friends have auctions for 2nd hand totally legit items taken down after malicious, monopolistic sellers have reported them for selling fakes, even to the point of receiving letters from solicitors - of course backed up by no evidence of actual fakery, those letters clearly got a rude and blunt reply about getting proper evidence before accusing people of criminal behavior.

    The point is though that eBay do take action, often more than they should... so to accuse them of complacency is foolish at best. Ebay cannot be expected to inspect the items for sale actively, what are they supposed to do - visit people's houses? Besides that eBay wouldn't necessarily have the specialist product knowledge to spot all fakes, and can't be expected to either. The best eBay can do is to work with trademark owners and the general user base to remove listings which are reported as being fake items - something which they already do, sometimes being over zealous in the process.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    eBay should be held responsible

    eBay should be made to either police their auctions or be held responsible when someone complains of infringement. eBay make billions from these illegal goods so they should be held liable.

  18. Dave


    "eBay will continue to lead the industry with innovative solutions to stop the sale of counterfeits."

    Since when was a little light key-word filtering innovative? What industry does eBay think that it is leading?

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