US Courts Recognize That eBay Isn't Responsible For Auctions By Users

from the a-good-ruling dept

Unlike last month's awful ruling in a French court, costing eBay millions, a US court has correctly recognized that eBay should not be found responsible for auctions of counterfeit goods. This case involved Tiffany Co., who wanted eBay to be held liable for others selling fake Tiffany goods on eBay auctions. The court sided with eBay on every single charge, and smacked down Tiffany over and over again in the ruling. It noted that eBay is not responsible for the actions of its users, and Tiffany is wrong to suggest that eBay has the responsibility to monitor the auction site for infringing auctions. eBay does take down such counterfeit auctions when made aware of them, and that is all that the company is required to do. The court specifically points out that the Supreme Court had already rejected the idea of a "reasonable anticipation" standard that would have made eBay liable, even though Tiffany tries to suggest otherwise. The court also notes that eBay didn't infringe on Tiffany trademarks in mentioning Tiffany in advertisements for the site. This is an excellent overall ruling, and nearly the complete opposite of the terrible French ruling.

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  1. identicon
    Willton, 14 Jul 2008 @ 3:15pm

    Re: French Rules

    I am more in agreement with the French rules. While a site shouldn't necessarily be responsible for the actions of it's users, it should be held somewhat responsible for profiting off of the sell of stolen/counterfeit good (craigslist doesn't profit from the sale of stolen/counterfeit goods listed on its site, ebay does through their fee structure).

    The law does make Ebay liable to such behavior under the law of contributory infringement, but only if Ebay knew that the goods were counterfeit and still allowed the sale. If Ebay does not know that a certain auction is for a counterfeit good, they cannot be held liable for the sale of that good.

    Ebay's fee structure should be altered so that they do not profit from counterfeit sales (only listing fees, and no percentage of the sale fees). This would protect ebay from most lawsuits.

    I suppose it would, but given the enormity of Ebay, that would be an administrative nightmare. How is Ebay supposed to know which auctions are for legit goods and which ones are for counterfeits?

    I also believe that eBay DID in fact infringe on Tiffany trademarks in mentioning Tiffany in advertisements for the site. Ebay (or anyone else for that matter) should not use the trademarks of another for their own gain without permission.

    How is Ebay using the Tiffany marks for their own gain?

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