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EBay Trademark Court Case - Slightly Used but no Real Damage. Bargain!.

The author

James Dawson

Business Development Manager

Ah eBay!  It’s an emotional rollercoaster - riding high when you win a bid for an item at a bargain price but down in the dumps when someone outbids you at the last minute. Last night I had a fall out with my fiancé as I hadn’t got my “shill” bid in on time to raise her item to a high enough cost.  Well I ended up winning the step aerobics machine after all, and if I get any more grief, I’ll break it in front of her as it’s officially my property now. But enough about my personal life.

EBay has been in the news recently as a recent European Court of Justice ruling has made eBay and other online market providers liable if they play an active role in the use of trademarks. They could also be held responsible for abuse if they were aware activity on their site was unlawful. The court also decided that EU governments are responsible for making sure that national courts order eBay and its contemporaries act on trademark infringements by its users. This all started four years ago when L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics manufacturer, alleged that trademark infringements were carried out on eBay by the selling of samplers marked “not for sale” as well as the selling of counterfeit goods.  Complaints were also raised about the availability of goods to consumers in the UK that were only intended for other geographical markets. However, eBay was not put out too much by the ruling. Senior eBay official in Europe, Stefan Krawczyk, recently told Reuters: "We have updated our measures to the new reality. We started many years ago. They are in place and I don't see what extra costs we would have ... on the basis of this judgement. Consumers and sellers will bear no extra cost” Dominic Batchelor, a partner at London law firm Ashurst, said: "EBay will be concerned by this decision, which means it could be forced to prevent intellectual property infringements by its users. The practical and cost implications could be extensive." Until now eBay has only blocked auctions if they have been informed of suspicious activities. Intellectual property lawyers are disagreeing as to whether these new rulings will make any difference. Some say that eBay will have to step up its policing of auctioned goods while others say it will only have to investigate further if they are already monitoring a seller. It’s definitely a bit of a grey area which will bear watching, like the auction I’m bidding on for a stuffed squirrel in a Superman outfit. Happy bidding and Good luck.