Tiffany CEO Admits That It's Suing eBay Because It's Too Hard To Find Real Counterfeiters

from the lawsuits-don't-work-that-way dept

Three and a half years ago, famed jeweler Tiffany sued eBay because people were selling counterfeit Tiffany goods on the auction site. As we noted at the time, it doesn't make any sense at all to sue eBay, since it's not eBay who's doing anything wrong. Tiffany's CEO has now basically admitted that, but doesn't seem to mind. At a hearing in the lawsuit, CEO Michael Kowalski admitted that the firm was suing eBay because it was hard to find the actual sellers. That may make sense in the mind of a Tiffany exec, but the way laws work is that you don't get to sue the person or company who's easy to find just because those actually responsible are hard to find. When a robber holds up a Tiffany store, does Kowalski sue the maker of the getaway car, because the robber can't be found? The company does admit that it sues the individuals when they can be found, but the CEO refers to them as "phantasms" and claimed it made more sense to just focus on eBay, saying that the real fault is "the distribution network, not the seller." Next thing you know, Kowalski will be suing the internet itself. After all, it's "the network, not the seller."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    dirk, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 10:55pm

    ebay and counterfeiters

    I once had my ebay account hacked and the dude listed a bunch of fake counterfeit tiffany jewelry. That is, using my account, he put up fake auctions for clearly counterfeit jewelry.

    I was pumped.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Al Gore, Nov 26th, 2007 @ 11:49pm

    i invented the internet

    If Tiffany sues the internet, I will vigorously defend myself against all charges. Instead, Tiffany should sue the Google. Where would eBay be without the Google.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anon, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 12:34am

    This is so weird

    It's so strange. I was just looking for a Tiffany's charm bracelet on eBay and decided to have a look on Techdirt - and here this is.

    Oh, and it's very stupid to sue eBay for this - although I don't think the people who shop at his stores are really going to care if he sues eBay for a bunch of incorrect reasons or not - it won't hurt their image.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Max Powers, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 3:15am

    Sue Everyone

    We could start a diagram that starts with Tiffany, then to Ebay, then to Google, then to .....all the way down the line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    John Q Public, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 3:31am

    Re: i invented the internet

    "The Google" ????? My Friend you are just what the internet needs another ID10T. Why don't you go and play on the google and leave the internet for the smart folks

     

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  6.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Nov 27th, 2007 @ 3:56am

    Re: This is so weird

    Not to mention that they're probably not losing money over this - the people who can afford Tiffany stuff will go there regardless. People buying fakes on ebay know that they're fakes, but don't care because they're so cheap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Oh Come On, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 4:48am

    Re: Re: i invented the internet

    John Q, you need to get a sense of humor and read a newspaper from time to time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Sheesh, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 5:10am

    Re: Re: i invented the internet

    Whoosh - the sound of a comment going over your head.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Danny, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 5:43am

    Wow at least the RIAA occasionally tries to find the actual offenders (albeit with weak and sometimes outright false information)...

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Ray, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 5:52am

    I support Tiffany as eBay is out of control with fakes. My wife bought a Tiffany item on eBay and it was a fake so she notified eBay and they did nothing. We sent the item to Tiffany and they confirmed it was a fake. Still eBay did nothing. We contacted the seller who then gave my wife a bad comment on her record! Yes, the criminal dinged us and still eBay did nothing, not even remove the ding! eBay knows about these fakes and does nothing. I hope Tiffany sues the hell out of eBay and wins.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    hautedawg, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:11am

    Re:

    When you buy something at a lower price, you can be assured that it was a fake, or stolen. You purchase a $1000 item for $50, you know that there is large chance that it is not a genuine Tiffany. Just like buying something that "fell off the back of the truck", you know the price is too good to be true, but you want to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. You get what you deserve, ding and all. Sorry to be so blunt, but come on, be honest with yourself.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Some Dude, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: i invented the internet

    Wouldn't it be kind of funny if John Q was really doing reverse super sarcasim? I sometimes look at 'that kind of persons' comments in that way. It makes me less depressed about humanity.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Security, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:19am

    How much has the suit costed Ebay so far

    Even if Tiffany has a revelation, how much has eBay spent so far?

    Can any of the money be reclaimed?

    Can Tiffany be fined for an inappropriate lawsuit?

    It is no wonder why some companies become so paranoid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Wizard Prang, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:28am

    You forgot about...

    ...the tubes.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Wizard Prang, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:29am

    Following that train of logic...

    We should all be able to sue the Post office for Mail Fraud.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:39am

    it's called caveat emptor

    or "let the buyer beware"

    meaning that if you are shopping for something, and you see it for a significant discount on ebay, it's probably a fake, or stolen, or both.

    you wouldn't buy a $500 television on a street corner for $50, why would you do it on ebay?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    Ray

    Why not sue the seller then? This is your right. Or, make sure Tiffany's sues them.

    But, Hautedawg has a point. You are an adult (I would hope any for being married) and should have known better. I don't go on e-bay and look for cisco routers and buy the $50 3800 series model. I know it will be a fake, or dead. Especially since they start at 3k easy. Actually, I don't use e-bay at all. But, I'm wise enough to know when I'm being had.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Darius, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 11:12am

    seriously

    as much as i love ebay, people should still use common sense.

    i couldnt agree anymore with the comments made in the article.

    it makes me doubt Tiffany's credibility.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 11:49am

    If the buyer should know that an underpriced item is fake, why can't eBay?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    sean, Nov 28th, 2007 @ 8:15am

    Christies, anyone?

    I briefly looked but I can't find... haven't people sued Christies and Sothebys for auctioning stolen art, particularly that taken off Jewish families in Nazi-era Europe?
    If they've been successful, would this not set the precedent that the dealer or auction-house is indeed liable for facilitating the sale of fake or stolen goods?

    Pls don't flame me for comparing faked Tiffany stuff to Picassos and the Holocaust, it's the legal PRECENDENT I'm wondering about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Adam, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 5:16pm

    But what if the getaway car was the only thing...

    that allowed the person to rob Tiffany's...

    just playing devil's advocate...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Wizard Prang, Dec 3rd, 2007 @ 9:09am

    Re: But what if the getaway car was the only thing

    That might work... if the car had a button on the dashboard clearly labelled "Rob Tiffany's"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Canada Topix Editor, Jan 17th, 2008 @ 9:20am

    Daily ebay rip Offs Going on Unreported by Many as

    Good for this guy...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Jules, Feb 28th, 2008 @ 10:14am

    Tiffany is stupid

    Tiffany is stupid. All you have to do is a search on Google and you will find hundreds of websites that say they are selling fake Tiffany jewelry. All they sell is fake Tiffany jewelry, but they go after Ebay. They are just lazy and greedy. They thought they could get some easy money from Ebay. I think they are losing business because so many people make sterling silver jewelry in better designs than them. I wouldn't wear their stuff cause it looks like their logo says TACO from a distance. Yeah, I want to wear a choker that announces that I love to eat at Taco Bella, but hey they've got that 4th meal thing going on. (Great marketing idea, like Americans need a 4th meal...sheesh!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    joan thomas, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 2:14am

    refake items from ebay

    ebay allows the sellers to scam the buyers because after claim are filed they continue to sellebay is just as responseable as the seller is y is it they get the our money b4 well get the item it should both be sent to ebay ebay check it out then once the item clears as was posted online ebay sends item and payment and the sellers areinsured if like me its embarresing i b told that i the buyer is scamiing my friend and it cost er time and money the sell should fill orders as they are list or paypal give the max per item 2000. i have alot in this oh one more thing why would ebay wipe the items i orderd i cant even view this in my e-mail like they dont want someone to seewat they have allowed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    joan thomas, Jul 2nd, 2008 @ 2:16am

    refake items from ebay

    ebay allows the sellers to scam the buyers because after claim are filed they continue to sellebay is just as responseable as the seller is y is it they get the our money b4 well get the item it should both be sent to ebay ebay check it out then once the item clears as was posted online ebay sends item and payment and the sellers areinsured if like me its embarresing i b told that i the buyer is scamiing my friend and it cost er time and money the sell should fill orders as they are list or paypal give the max per item 2000. i have alot in this oh one more thing why would ebay wipe the items i orderd i cant even view this in my e-mail like they dont want someone to seewat they have allowed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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  34.  
    identicon
    Emily Tedds, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Fake Items on Ebay

    Really surprised to still come across this issue after all these years. I remember back then lots of people had different opinions about how to go with this. From a business point of view I relate to ebay's position. Interesting though

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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