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Thursday, 5 June 2008

eBay loses French trade mark case

The IPKat has learnt from AFP that a French court has ruled that eBay must pay Hermes 20,000 euros for allowing counterfeit Hermes bags on its site. The court found that

“By selling Hermes bags and branded accessories on the site, and by failing to act within their powers to prevent reprehensible use of the site… [both eBay and the seller] committed acts of counterfeiting and imitation of French brand names ... to the detriment of Hermes international."

eBay must also publish the ruling on its homepage.

Counsel for Hermes argued that eBay was more than a mere passive intermediary, instead:

"eBay is an active player in the transaction because not only does it offer a number of services to improve the sale, but when it does not work well enough or fast enough, they intervene with the client…They are perfectly informed of the transactions since they take a percentage cut."

The IPKat isn’t sure about this ruling. He doubts whether someone at eBay really has knowledge of every transaction that is taking place. He reckons that forcing someone to check out if each branded item sold is real of counterfeit would make the business model untenable, which would remove a valuable service for consumers. Merpel comment, 20,000 euros for damage to a luxury brand – that's not a lot, is it?

1 comment:

Frédéric said...

The text of the decision is available here (French only).

Regarding the damages, you also have to consider that only two knock-off bags were sold in this case.

Regarding the liability of auction sites, (as previously mentioned on pmdm), Charly McCreevy recently expressed the Commission position (click on "Answer" - top right).

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