The 171-year-old jewelry company Tiffany & Co lost to eBay on a suit filed by Tiffany on counterfeit auction listing on eBay. This could be a pleasant surprise for auctioneers like Amazon, Yahoo and Google.
Tiffany’s lawyer’s contacted eBay in 2003 stating that any seller who sells five or more pieces of Tiffany jewelry should be automatically deleted. eBay in turn did not consider this demand and stated that, “we are not prepared to do at this time”. This frustrated Tiffany who again approached eBay to ban all silver Tiffany jewelry. eBay again refused the request. eBay was not willing to accept this demand because it felt that considering a listing infringing just because the seller sold multiple items at the same time is not reasonable.
This long argument was finally put to an end by Judge Sullivan on Monday. He mentioned that eBay always removed listings promptly whenever Tiffany notified of any counterfeit goods. He also mentioned that eBay even delayed listings of Tiffany products by 6 to 12 hours just to do a manual check before making the products live. The judge stated, “As a factual matter, there is little support for Tiffany’s allegation that a seller listing five or more pieces of Tiffany jewelry is presumptively trafficking in counterfeit goods.”
It should be noted that eBay provides the service VeRO – Verified Rights Owner were a trademark owner can report or remove infringing listings. There are more than 14,000 companies and individual merchants participating in this program. Tiffany is one of them.
eBay spends $5 million each year on its fraud search engine identifying counterfeit listings. The search engine has 13,000 rules set to find out fraudsters through a keyword search algorithm.