Monday, July 14, 2008

How Do You Say "Caveat Emptor" in French?

After being defeated in a couple of recent lawsuits about copyright infringement, Ebay has won a legal victory:

In a long-awaited decision in a four-year-old trademark lawsuit against eBay brought by the jeweler Tiffany and Company, Judge Richard Sullivan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled Monday that the online retailer does not bear a legal responsibility to prevent its users from selling counterfeit items on its marketplace.

The decision in the closely watched case, which will likely be appealed by Tiffany, reaffirms that Internet companies do not have to actively filter their sites for copyrighted or trademarked material. Rather, they can rely on intellectual property-holders to monitor the sites, as long as the retailers take material down when rights-holders complain.

The ruling marks a dramatic turn in eBay’s recent courtroom fortunes and comes a week after a French judge ordered eBay to pay $60 million to the French luxury goods maker LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the maker of Louis Vuitton handbags. In April, a German appeals court ruled that eBay must take preventative measures against the sale of counterfeit Rolex watches.

I don't condone the selling of counterfeit goods, of course. But I'm not sure how it can possibly be the duty of a third-party website to verify the nature of goods they never even physically see.

And besides, isn't there a notion out there that buyers ought to beware? If someone offers you a deal that's too good to be true on a brand-name item, then it probably is too good to be true.

My sympathies don't lie all that much with the flashy designer brands, anyway. Aren't they making enough money already? Do they really think they're losing the business of all those people unintelligent enough to purchase a fake at a fraction of the price, who probably can't afford the real goods in the first place?

1 comment:

Daddio said...

Exactly. It's not like those people would have just gone and bought a real $3,000 purse if the knock-off wasn't available. If anything, the fakes increase the prestige of the real ones.