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High court rejects Tiffany's appeal in eBay suit

The U.S. Supreme Court dismisses the jewelry maker's appeal of a 2008 ruling in favor of eBay in a trademark infringement suit.

eBay has won the latest and seemingly last round in a lawsuit filed by jewelery maker Tiffany over alleged trademark infringement.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear an appeal filed by Tiffany over a 2008 court decision that found in favor of eBay in a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Initially filed in 2004, the suit from Tiffany alleged that eBay should be held liable for any trademark infringement from the sale of phony goods on the auction site. But in a July 2008 ruling, a U.S. District Court found that trademark law could not be used to hold eBay responsible for policing counterfeit Tiffany items on its site. The court said that ultimately it is the responsibility of the trademark holder to monitor instances of trademark infringement.

In August 2008, Tiffany appealed the court's ruling. This past April, an appeals court found in favor of eBay, prompting Tiffany to bring the matter to the highest court in the land.

In rejecting the appeal yesterday without offering any comment or explanation, the Supreme Court essentially closed the books on this particular suit.

In response to the court's decision, eBay sent CNET the following statement issued yesterday by Michelle Fang, eBay's associate general counsel:

"The U.S. Supreme Court's...denial is a great victory for eBay and U.S. consumers. We believe this case has always been about Tiffany's efforts to prevent people from buying and selling authentic Tiffany products online, and the culmination of this case validates eBay's business practices. The decision lets stand the prior rulings of both the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the trial court, which found that eBay exceeds all legal requirements in the fight against counterfeits."

eBay has been in and out of court for years over lawsuits from manufacturers that say the site should do more to stop the sale of fake goods.

In May 2009, a French court found in favor of eBay in a suit filed by L'Oreal. The judge ruled that eBay could not be held accountable for the sale of fake goods on its site.

But In November 2009, eBay was fined $2.5 million by a French court in a suit from fashion conglomerate company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. In this case, the court found that eBay had violated a 2008 order by not stopping the sale of LVMH products, both legitimate and counterfeit, after it had earlier ruled that such items could only be sold by authorized resellers.

On its end, eBay has insisted that it puts a huge amount of time and money into combating the sale of fake goods. The company has also commented that some of the lawsuits are simply looking to clamp down on the sale of legitimate products since the manufacturers don't get a cut of those sales.