Monday, June 21, 2004

Tiffany v. eBay

Apparently around 73% of all the Tiffany jewelry sold on eBay is counterfiet.

Using eBay programs like VeRO, Tiffany had two employees work full-time policing the site and forced the shutdown of about 19,000 auction sites on eBay, he said. This year, Tiffany randomly bought silver "Tiffany" jewelry on eBay and found that 73 percent of it was counterfeit, 5 percent of it was genuine and the rest was promoted as "Tiffany-like" but not promoted as genuine.

Tiffany has had it up to here, they've filed suit to keep eBay from selling any more counterfiet Tiffany goods. How would eBay know which are real and which fake?

There was a similar case in 2002 - Gentry v. eBay - eBay was sued for selling fake sports merchandise, like signed baseballs, hats and so on. eBay was made aware that a large portion of what was being sold was fake but they did nothing about it and were eventually sued by some customers. eBay was off the hook because they are internet service provider as opposed to the content provider, and thus enjoy near immunity according to the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 270. At the time, the case represented an expanded interpretation of the immunity the CDA provided. The court found that even though eBay made loads of money from the fake merchandise and had been on notice since 1996 that much of the sports memoribelia being sold was fake, they were not liable because they provided no warranty as to the authenticity of the goods and nor did they provide the content claiming the goods were authentic.

I don't see how this case would turn out any different, unless the courts decided to rein in the now (overly?) expansive protection the CDA provides. Go ahead and type in "tffany jewelry" at eBay, you'll be shocked at how you can get real Tiffany goods for only around $10!

Article here. Article about shopping in the buff here.


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