Thursday, 4 August 2011

eBay liable for your fake Gucci or Prada

Luxembourg - The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that eBay - and similar online marketplaces and auction sites - may be liable for trademark and copyright infringements if their users offer and sell counterfeit goods on their websites. 

In a case brought by the French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, Europe's most important Court has ruled that online marketplaces should not be exempted from liability if they have indications that suggest that certain online sales are unlawful, and they do not remove such items or block the sale of these products on their websites. For years, it has been common practice that fake products have sold under luxury brand names such as Armani, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Richemont and Burberry.

The Court of Justice for the EU also said that under European law operators of online marketplaces can be ordered by national courts to take measures to prevent counterfeit goods being sold on their sites. This means courts in the UK, Germany, France, Italy or other European Union countries can step in and obstruct the sale of fake bags, scarfs, clothes, shoes and other common luxury goods. 

Online marketplaces are, however, not liable for copyright infringement if they merely allow customers to display signs of trade marks next to their goods, but there are no signs the actual goods are offered as such.

Kirsten Gilbert, a partner at the London law firm Marks & Clerk, said in a response: "EU trade mark law has been straining under the pressure of dealing with the internet age. The rise of online commerce has created a host of scenarios never envisaged when our laws were drafted. Today's ruling will give national courts guidance on how to approach just one of these scenarios”.

Published previously in a London based publication, August 2011. Copyrights apply. Picture: