eBay, that messy superconductor of feverish capitalism, has hit some static.
A French court recently ordered eBay to pay about $30,000 to Hermes for “committing acts of counterfeiting,” when an eBay customer sold two fake Hermes handbags on the site in 2006. The seller was ordered to pay the same amount.
On Monday, a French court ordered eBay to pay $61million, in damages to the French luxury goods company LVMH, in the latest round of a long-running legal battle over the sale of counterfeit goods on the Internet.
Up next: L'Oreal, for the sale of fake cosmetics and perfumes; and, in the United States, Tiffany, for the sale of fake jewels.
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eBay says in its defense that a software program it strengthened in 2006 makes it easier for the company to identify and take down bogus offers.
But who presumes anything on eBay is authentic?
Recently, if you want to buy an item on the site with “Dior” in the description, 4,443 options pop up. Plug in “Chanel,” and you get 6,344 returns.
If things go very badly for eBay, rigorous, restrictive oversight will likely ensue. But eBay doesn't inspect merchandise it sells, and without holding those handbags in your hands, discerning its veracity is a losing battle.
If you want guarantees, go to Portero.com, the online auction site that vouches for the authenticity of all the merchandise it sells.
Stealing copyrighted material is harmful in many ways. But now that the world has embraced the radical economic freedom accorded by eBay's virtual marketplace, it won't accept anything less.
Kathryn Wexler, McClatchy Newspapers