by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 13th 2007 6:34pm
We've gone on at length over the years concerning safe harbors for online service providers, noting that service providers shouldn't (and usually don't, under the law) have liability for illegal actions performed by users of the service. However, many of the safe harbors that provide that protection make it clear that should the service providers be informed of illegal activities, the service providers need to take action to avoid becoming liable. However, if the service providers don't take action, what is their liability? We may soon find out, thanks to a new lawsuit involving eBay and the maker of of dollhouse furniture, Hansson. Hansson is upset that someone else is selling dollhouse furniture on eBay using Hansson's trademark. While, at first, this might sound like other such lawsuits against eBay for counterfeit goods, this case is different in a few important ways. First, Hansson actually is suing the company who is selling the counterfeit doll furniture. Second, while it is suing eBay, that's only because Hansson claims that the company sent eBay eight takedown notices and a cease-and-desist letter -- all of which were ignored. So, the question now becomes what kind of liability eBay faces if it's found that the company ignored the various notifications about infringing goods on the site. Eric Goldman, who wrote the story at the link above wonders why eBay would ignore all those notifications, but also questions whether or not it's wise on Hansson's part to drag eBay into the lawsuit just to get its attention. As he says, Hansson may get more of eBay's attention than it really wanted.
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