eBay triumphs in Tiffany trademark lawsuit

eBay scored an important victory in court against jeweller Tiffany & Co., an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report also quoted a federal judge saying companies such as Tiffany & Co. are responsible for policing their trademarks online, not auction platforms like eBay.

Tiffany had sued eBay in 2004, arguing that most items listed for sale as genuine Tiffany products on eBay's sites were fakes, the report said.

But US District Judge Richard J. Sullivan in New York ruled that eBay can't be held liable for trademark infringement 'based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their web sites.'

The judge said that when Tiffany notified eBay of suspected counterfeit goods, eBay 'immediately removed those listings.'
Although the online auction company refused to go further, by preemptively taking down suspicious listings for Tiffany jewelry, the judge said eBay didn't have to make such a move.

EBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said that the ruling 'confirms that that eBay acted reasonably and has adequate procedures in place to effectively address counterfeiting.'

Mark Aaron, a spokesman for Tiffany, said the company was 'shocked and deeply dismayed' by the decision. Tiffany lawyer James Swire said his company might appeal it. Swire said eBay should be responsible for counterfeits on its sites, or else sellers of fakes could 'go on victimizing consumers.'