US court finds that eBay is not liable for counterfeits sold on it’s site

August 2008

All areas

A US District Court has decided that the internet auctioneer eBay had not infringed Tiffany’s trade marks in failing to prevent fake Tiffany goods to be sold through its site. According to the New York Times, the court found that it was the responsibility of trade mark owners, and not online retailers, to police the online sites for infringers. The US decision runs counter to the emerging trend it Europe, where eBay has been found to have infringed in both France and Germany. Judge Richard J Sullivan in the Manhatten Federal District Court said “Tiffany has failed to demonstrate that eBay knowingly encouraged others to dilute Tiffany’s trademarks,” in his 66-page decision. “Rather, to the extent that eBay may have possessed general knowledge of infringement and dilution by sellers on its Web site, eBay did not possess knowledge or a reason to know of specific instances of trademark infringement or dilution as required under the law.”

See Music Law Updates July 2008 for a report on the position in France – French courts holds eBay liable for sale of counterfeit goods

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