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eBay wins, you lose


A New York federal judge has ruled that eBay, the alleged "rat’s nest" of trademark violations, "cannot be held liable for trademark infringement based solely on [its] generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on [its] website[].” Unlike Europe, the United States appears to turn a blind eye to the windfall profits eBay is enjoying at the expense of bidders, which eBay knows, or should know, are buying counterfeit merchandise.

Unlike its American counterpart, the Paris Court of Appeals last week slapped eBay with a $61 Million verdict for negligence and illicit sales involving auctions of counterfeit LVMH goods. LVMH owns the Loius Vitton, Givenchy, Fendi and Marc Jacobs brands. According to eBay, the online auction website "scraps" auctions for counterfeit goods ASAP. The Paris Court found, however, that eBay apparently missed one or two such counterfeit auctions, more precisely about $61 million worth. And that just includes LVMH counterfeit goods.

I realize $61 million worth is not a lot of counterfeit goods being auctioned to consumers, but when you include the millions in alleged counterfeit auctions selling counterfeit Tiffany, Hermes, L’Oreal, Rolex and other goods, and then you start adding in things like bootleg DVDs and other types of scams, pretty soon you start talking some real money. Given that eBay makes the same money from both legitimate and counterfeit auctions alike, where is the motivation to police sellers?


Brett Trout


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