Belgian Court Agrees With US Court That eBay Not Liable For Fake Products

from the another-good-decision dept

Just days after Tiffany appealed the correct US ruling that eBay isn’t liable for counterfeit goods sold on the site, a Belgian court has sided with eBay in a very similar lawsuit involving L’Oreal. Apparently, the Belgian courts understand how liability works a lot better than their neighbors in France, who ruled the other way in a case involving Louis Vuitton.

L’Oreal says it’s “surprised” by the decision and will appeal, but fails to explain why eBay, as a platform maker, should be responsible for what people do with that platform. About the only answer seems to be that L’Oreal recognizes eBay is an easier target than going after those actually responsible (those selling the counterfeit goods). It’s nice that most courts recognize that the easiest entity to sue is not necessarily the proper entity to sue.

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Companies: ebay, l'oreal

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Comments on “Belgian Court Agrees With US Court That eBay Not Liable For Fake Products”

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dorpass says:

Re: Sounds familiar

I’m waiting for eBay to use the YouTube excuse “Our users are constantly uploading gigabytes upon gigabytes of information and we catch some material, but it’s impossible for us to catch every little thing”

That’s not a YouTube excuse, that’s MPAA excuse for why it should be someone other than them policing their content online.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sounds familiar

it is more than an excuse. you try and see how many videos on youtube or auctions on Ebay that you can visit in an hour and determine beyond any doubt whether they are legit or not. after that compare them to the total number of items or videos uploaded to the site in the past 24 hrs. then do the math to figure out how many employees you need just to look at the items, track down the company that would potentially be harmed (not all videos on youtube infringe on the copyright afterall) and tack down offending material for that one 24 hour time frame.

the chances are that you would need hundreds of employees working round the clock every day of the week to keep up with everything. and this is in a perfect world where it is quick and easy to determine who the copyright holder is. it is not feasible for anyone to police these sites any way other than the current system, not to mention that an attempt at doing so would drive all the customers to a different site that doesn’t have such policies.

Izzy says:

It's not obvious

Without getting into specific legalities, IMHO it’s not *obvious* that ebay isn’t responsble for the actions of its users. The argument that ebay “just provides a platform” is a bit like saying that a municipal swimming pool “just provides some water” and if someone drowns in the pool because someone jumps on them they have absolutely no responsibility for it. In the case of the swimming pool, there would be a case to answer and a strong possibility (in the UK) of criminal prosecution. Why is ebay different? The only argument I can see is one of scale – it would be hard for them to check the validity of everything on sale – but the fact it’s difficult wouldn’t be a defence. Ebay provides much more than a mere platform – they are an auctioneer (they take a cut, after all) and I believe that physical auctioneers have some responsibility for verifying to the best of their abilities the authenticity of the goods they auction. So, in the interests of argument, why is ebay different?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's not obvious

if we are to use the comparison to the public pool. then ebay is like the pool that posts all the rules, warns you not to swim alone, and that currently there is no lifeguard on duty, so be extra careful. if someone drowns in those conditions the pool company would not be charged with anything.

Jon says:

The big difference here is that eBay takes a cut. They know counterfeit goods are sold on eBay but they turn there heads because they are making a ton of money. I’m a seller on eBay and its littered with counterfeit goods. It actually effects my business and livelihood in a tremendously negative way. IMO, I think eBay is absolutely liable. As soon as you take a cut of every single item that is sold, you should be responsible to ensure the authenticity of products sold and sellers selling on the eBay platform.

It’s negligent to say we just provide the platform or “meeting place” for both buyer and seller.

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