Tiffany Presses eBay to Police Forgeries

Showdown may force online auctioneer to monitor—at a big cost
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2008 8:26 AM CDT
An eBay sign is shown outside of the eBay campus in San Jose, in this July 17, 2007 file photo.    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)
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(Newser) – A legal battle between Tiffany & Co and eBay could change the face of online auctioneering forever, the Wall Street Journal reports. The jeweler says eBay should be responsible for checking its millions of listings for counterfeit goods, while eBay maintains that it's up to the trademark holder to flag the fakes—especially since eBay itself never holds the items.

"I think this may be one of those cases that sets a precedent," noted an intellectual property lawyer. A loss in court for eBay—which the lawyer considered quite likely—would hit the online giant hard. The cost of policing its listings for fakes may eat up eBay's profit margins and it could be forced to take control of whole classes of goods.