Monday, July 14, 2008


There is an article in Todays edition of the Wall Street Journal about a case that Tiffany Jewelers had against eBay. Apparently, Tiffany's is suing eBay because eBay wasn't able to stop all counterfeit jewelry from being sold through their program.

eBay won the case. Their argument is that they do everything they can to stop the counterfeit merchandise from being sold. When they are notified, they take the buyer off the page. Tiffany thinks it isn't good enough. From what I gather, Tiffany's seems to think that eBay should be experts on all goods bearing Tiffany's brand and know from the get go if it is a knock off.

I don't see how that is eBay's job. eBay doesn't guarantee the authenticity of the merchandise that is sold on their site. They simply put together a method for people to sell their goods online. It's like walking into someone's garage sale.

As it stands now, if a company wants to protect it's brand, they have to police the marketplace themselves and crack down on it. I remember when I worked for Calvin Klein, the clothing labels were kept in a vault. Several years ago, a story was done about something up in Seattle and there was a photo of a man with a cap. Apparently, he had painted his own UT logo on the cap. UT hunted the man down and told him it was not an official version of their logo and told him to discard it or be sued.

Tiffany wants to "change the law so that major manufacturers wouldn't have the burden of policing their own marks."

I'm afraid the courts are right. It really is up to the company to police it's own brand. How can the legal system police it? Who's going to pay them to do it? What would any company's argument be to support the idea that it isn't their burden? Whose burden is it if not the companies themselves?

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