Published: July 15, 2008
In a reversal of judicial tide eddying around eBay Inc, a federal court here on July 14 ruled that American jeweler Tiffany & Co. cannot hold the online auction platform responsible for policing its trademarks online.
The Tiffany lawsuit attempted to put some legal teeth into the luxury brand’s longstanding protests to eBay that it remove listings for counterfeit Tiffany jewelry.
In his 66-page decision, however, US District Judge Richard J. Sullivan ruled that eBay cannot be held liable for trademark infringement “based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their websites.”
A Tiffany source commented, “The company is deeply disappointed in this decision, which it believes is erroneous in the application of trademark law that is designed to protect consumers against sellers of counterfeit goods that seek to victimize them.”
This most recent court decision involving eBay and luxury goods makers countered a couple of French court decisions. On June 30, a French court ordered eBay to pay $61 million in damages to French luxury goods manufacturer Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. And just weeks before that, another French court had ordered eBay to pay about $30,000 to Hermes.