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.

Filed Under: auctions, counterfeit goods, liability, platforms
Companies: ebay, tiffany

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 14 Jul 2008 @ 2:03pm

    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).

    eBay provides a service. It profits from providing that *service*, not from the sale of counterfeit goods.

    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.

    That's incorrect. The purpose of a trademark is NOT to grant the mark holder complete control over the mark, but to prevent consumers from being confused about who made a product.

    Based on your rules, Pepsi could never mention Coke in an advertisement.

    You can and should be able to use a trademark in an advertisement, so long as you're not trying to convince someone that you are that other company.

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