French watchdog takes eBay to court

France's auction watchdog is taking eBay to court, arguing that it does not do enough to protect consumers, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted the regulatory authority, called the Council of Sales, as saying that eBay's French site should be held to the same standards as France's auction houses, which need a special permit from authorities, partly to ensure consumers are protected.

In a statement, eBay's French branch, eBay.fr, said the legal action was 'totally unjust.' The French site has argued for years that it should not be subject to the same regulations as France's auctioneers.

eBay.fr says it is merely an intermediary, not a traditional auction house, because customers put objects up for sale themselves, and because the site is not involved in negotiating contracts or in delivery and payment, the Associated Press report further said.

The Council of Sales, whose members are state-appointed, said it was not trying to crack down on online auctions, according to the report.

Council officials also said they had been studying eBay.fr carefully for more than three years and had compiled a list of complaints, the report said.

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