U.K. court rules for eBay in L'Oreal suit

Auction site wins suit over the sale of counterfeit L'Oreal items. U.K court says eBay cannot be held accountable for the sale of fake goods.

Update at 8:40 a.m. PDT: Reaction from L'Oreal has been added.

eBay has won another lawsuit over the sale of counterfeit goods on its site.

A U.K. court ruled Friday that eBay cannot be held accountable for the sale of fake cosmetics on its auction site, as L'Oreal alleged in its lawsuit filed in March.

The cosmetics giant has long criticized eBay for not doing enough to halt the hawking of phony products that bear the L'Oreal name. But eBay has insisted it merely provides the trading space for its users and has no direct involvement in the items bought and sold.

"This is an important judgment because it ensures that consumers can continue to buy genuine products at competitive prices on eBay," Richard Ambrose, head of trust and safety for eBay in the U.K., said in a statement. "Furthermore, following legal victories for eBay in the U.K., U.S., France, and Belgium we reiterate again that cooperation and dialogue is what is needed, not litigation. Only by working together can we collectively address the issues that concern eBay, rights owners and consumers."

L'Oreal put a positive spin on the ruling, saying that despite the verdict, the court agreed with its view that eBay can do more to stop trademark infringement. L'Oreal suggested 10 measures that eBay could adopt, such as filtering listings before they're posted, requiring listing sellers to disclose their names and addresses, and applying sanctions more rigorously.

eBay has maintained that the number of bogus items traded on its site is minimal, reporting that of the 2.7 billion listings it hosted globally in 2008, only 0.15 percent of them were identified as potentially counterfeit. The company says it works with more than 31,000 brand owners to ensure that only genuine products are offered for sale.

Still, eBay has been caught in a revolving door of lawsuits in the past few years by L'Oreal and other companies over the sale of counterfeit goods.

Last year, eBay won a suit against jewelry powerhouse Tiffany but lost a suit filed by LVMH, parent company of Louis Vuitton and Dior. Last week, a French court ruled for eBay in its L'Oreal suit , while another L'Oreal case filed in Spain is still awaiting a verdict.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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