eBay not liable for sale of fakes unless it knows about it

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Appeal Ebay

Online auction site eBay may be liable for the sale of fakes on its websites if it is aware of them, according to a recent opinion from a European court official.

The opinion relates to an ongoing lawsuit between cosmetics giant L’Oreal and eBay, where the online auction site is accused of not doing enough to stop the sale of fakes.

Advice from the European Court of Justice was sought by the UK courts after the case was heard in the summer of last year, and yesterday Advocate General Nillo Jääskinen gave his opinion.

According to the Advocate General, eBay is in general not responsible for the counterfeit goods sold through its site.

However, he did say that if eBay was aware that the goods offered by a trader on its site are counterfeit, and that this action was likely to continue, it could be held responsible.

No samples or products without packaging

While this advice may not tighten the protection as much as some of the luxury goods providers would have hoped, Jääkinsen did make a number of statements that have been hailed as a victory by L’Oreal, including the fact that eBay should not sell sample products or those without their packaging.

L’Oreal has said these suggestions are a step in the right direction towards fighting the online sale of counterfeits.

“These balanced conclusions confirm for the most part the position supported by L’Oreal for several years,”​ the company said in a statement.

Although the conclusions of the Advocate General do not have to be adhered to, for the most part they are followed and L’Oreal said it was ‘confidently awaiting’ the decision of the European Court of Justice.

This is not the only time the online auction site has been accused by brand holders of not doing enough to stop the sale of counterfeits, and recently the Paris Court of Appeal found the site guilty with regard to counterfeit products of LVMH-owned brands.

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