If you bought L’Oreal products on eBay which turned out to be fake would you think the seller or eBay is responsible? In 2009 the courts ruled eBay shouldn’t be accountable but a new ruling could change all that…
Until now, sites like eBay could not be held responsible for the sale of counterfeit goods. So sellers could sell non-genuine goods without the online site being accountable for the sale.
But that could now change. The European Court of Justice yesterday ruled that online marketplaces like eBay could be liable for counterfeit goods sold on its websites.
The court stated that any online retailer who played an ‘active role’ in promoting counterfeit goods could be held liable for trademark violations.
The ruling is the latest in an ongoing battle between eBay and the cosmetics brand L’Oreal. L’Oreal argues that eBay’s practice of purchasing search engine keywords, which target its trademarks and products, effectively promotes the wares of trademark infringers.
You might be ‘worth it’ but are the goods?
I once bought a bag ‘in the style of’- I think was the carefully-worded phrased – Louis Vuitton. It was 10 years ago and cost £35. Now at that price I knew I was buying a fake or something that would only loosely resemble a Louis Vuitton bag. However, if the bag had cost hundreds of pounds and been described as an all-singing-and-dancing true Louis then I’d feel very differently about the issue.
But I’m not quite sure who I’d expect to take responsibility if I’ve bought a fake item believing it to be real – the seller who provided the fake item or eBay. And I’m not sure whether I’d expect them to be jointly liable, but I like to think a website like eBay would have suitable knowledge and control over the sellers to admit some responsibility.
Can you spot a fake?
I’ve always had a fair amount of luck purchasing goods on online auctions. If I’m honest, most of my flat is furnished in goods negotiated on eBay. I do my best to suss out the seller, and if I’m not happy that the item is as described on the site I’ll let the seller know (oh yes, I know my rights under the Sale of Goods Act).
Luckily I’ve managed to resolve any issues I’ve had direct with the seller. A genuine seller will want to maintain the reputation and do their best to sort the problem out for you.
But I’m wondering if online auction sceptics would have renewed faith if they felt the site would be held accountable. Do you think these sites can genuinely claim they’re not aware they’re selling counterfeit goods?