District Court Smacks Down Tiffany (Yet Again) In Fight With eBay Over Counterfeit Items

from the will-tiffany-ever-learn? dept

Back in April, we noted the latest in the rather long saga of Tiffany's legal fight against eBay. Tiffany had sued eBay, claiming that the online auction site was legally responsible for policing the site for counterfeit Tiffany items that users were selling. Despite the lack of a clear safe harbor (a la the DMCA or the CDA), the appeals court agreed with the district court that eBay was not liable for the actions of third parties on its site. The one area where the appeals court sent the issue back to the lower court concerned eBay's own advertisements. eBay had apparently run some ads that mentioned the availability of Tiffany products on the site, and Tiffany claimed this made them liable. The court noted that it didn't appear this was false advertising (as there was nothing false in the ads), but that it might confuse or mislead users. It asked the lower court to look into that specific claim.

It didn't take all that long, as the lower court once again sided with eBay and said that eBay did nothing wrong here:
"Tiffany failed to establish that eBay intentionally set out to deceive the public, much less that eBay's conduct was of an egregious nature sufficient to create a presumption that consumers were being deceived,"
You can also read the full opinion thanks to Eric Goldman:
The case isn't quite over yet, as Tiffany keeps appealing various aspects of it, but it certainly doesn't look good for Tiffany -- but does appear very good for anyone who believes in the principles of properly applying liability to those who did the actions, rather than the "easy target" third party (even in the absence of official safe harbors).
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Filed Under: advertising, secondary liability, trademark
Companies: ebay, tiffany


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