by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 31st 2007 2:21pm
For many years, various luxury brands have had problems with people selling counterfeit goods on eBay -- leading to a variety of lawsuits. Of course, most of these lawsuits are incorrectly targeted. They're usually filed against eBay, rather than the seller of the goods. eBay doesn't inspect the goods or make any claim to the authenticity of them. That should be up to the buyer and seller to work out. However, a few months ago, it appears that a German court felt differently, and told eBay that it may be liable for fake Rolexes being sold on the site, even if eBay has no real way of knowing what's real and what's fake. The court seemed to indicate that eBay should be able to tell from the price, but that's not necessarily true. In the meantime, it's not clear why this isn't a problem that the market will start to work out by itself. For many, many years you've been able to buy fake Rolexes on the streets of New York City, but Rolex doesn't sue the New York City government for letting this happen. It recognizes that most people know that the Rolex you buy from a street vendor probably isn't real. Along those very lines, Rolex has introduced programs to designate legitimate Rolexes on eBay already -- so this seems like the type of "problem" that could work itself out without making eBay liable, but apparently it's too late for that.
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