Ebay fined over fake goods sales

French court orders online auctioneer to pay $63m to luxury goods brands.

    LVMH is the world's leading luxury brand [AFP]

    "This is being done at the expense of the consumers and sellers to whom eBay is always offering opportunities," she said.

    The spokeswoman also said eBay had taken measures in the past to combat counterfeiting. 

    "In 2007, we removed 2.2m potentially counterfeit listings from the eBay site and suspended 50,000 sellers who we believe were attempting to sell suspected counterfeit goods," she said.

    Brand 'protection'

    The court found that eBay, the world's largest online auctioneer, had committed "serious errors" by allowing the sales of fake Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton (LVMH) goods and violating the perfume sales distribution network set up by Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior Couture.

    EBay was ordered to pay $63m to the six plaintiffs including almost $30m to LVMH Malettier, which makes handbags, luggage and other leather goods.

    It must pay about $25m to Christian Dior Couture, LVMH’s sister company for damage to its brand images and causing moral harm.

    The court also ordered eBay to pay about $6m to the four perfume brands for sales in violation of its authorised network.

    LVMH hailed the decision as a coup against illegal sales on the internet.

    "It is a major first because of the principles that it recognises and the amount sought," Pierre Gode, an aide to LVMH president Bernard Arnault, said.

    Describing eBay's anti-counterfeit measures as "empty", Gode said the court decision was "important for the creative industry" and that it "protected brands by considering them an important part of French heritage."

    Adverts barred

    LVMH, the world's leading luxury brand, was seeking about $79m in damages from US-based eBay Inc. and its Swiss subsidiary eBay AG for the auctions of fake goods and unauthorised sales of perfumes.

    It had argued during the case that began a year and a half ago that eBay knowingly allowed the sales of counterfeit products such as handbags, lipstick, perfume and clothes on its website.

    The court issued a cease and desist order to eBay, barring it from running ads for the perfume and cosmetic brands or face a fine of $78,000 per day.

    The full text of the decision is to be posted on the eBay sites in English and French within the next three weeks, the court ordered.

    The ruling came amid a flurry of legal action against the online giant, which claims to have some 84 million active users in 39 markets worldwide.

    Guy Kewney, the editor of newswireless.net, told Al Jazeera that the case brought up the key question of how much policing an auction house could sustain.

    "It's a question we should take quite seriously because we as individuals have a lot of trouble dealing with being scanned on any sort of street market," Kewney said.

    "Of course a big company like Louis Vuitton or any of the other software companies whose goods are sold as fake on eBay - and there's a lot of them - could at some stage say 'look we're losing a lot more money than we're prepared to lose, and eBay is a target and they have money'."

    Pirate trade

    Three weeks ago, eBay was convicted by a French court of selling counterfeit goods and ordered to pay about $31,000 in damages to French luxury group Hermes.

    That court ruling, which marked a first in France, found eBay directly responsible for the sale on its website of three Hermes bags including two fakes, for a total of $4,700.

    France's traditional auctioneers took legal action against the eBay in December, accusing it of encouraging trade in pirated and stolen goods.

    A council representing the auction industry also accuses the Internet trader of breaking a French law that requires all auctioneers to be approved by the state.

    According to eBay, the total value of items sold on its trading platforms in 2007 was nearly $60bn.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Senegal's village of women

    Senegal's village of women

    Women in northeast Senegal are using solar-powered irrigation to farm food and halt the encroaching desert.

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Inside Baltimore's human trafficking industry

    Survivors of sex trafficking and those who investigate it in the city share their stories.

    A tale of two isolations

    A tale of two isolations

    More than 1,000km apart, a filmmaker and the subject of his film contend with the methods and meanings of solitude.