Tiffany has initiated a lawsuit against online auction giant eBay alleging that eBay “facilitates counterfeiting”. According to Tiffany, out of hundreds of purchases made in 2004 by its representatives of “Tiffany” products, less than 25% of the purchases turned out to involve genuine merchandise. eBay claims that it should not incur any liability because does not take title or possession of the goods but rather only operates an online marketplace.
Although I have not researched the issue lately, my recollection is that there were a number of cases involving flea market operators that found that such operators were liable for infringing sales made by their vendors in certain circumstances. So I doubt that Tiffany’s claims are without merit. If Tiffany is successful then other lawsuits could quickly follow from copyright or trademark owners.
I noticed that there were news items back from June 2004 also mentioning a possible lawsuit by Tiffany against eBay.