eBay officially launched eBay Authenticate, a new service that verifies, lists, and sells luxury handbags for 12 high-end brands on behalf of sellers. Sellers who use the service can list handbags and wallets valued at $500+ and receive 80% of the final selling price for the premium brands, including Balenciaga, Burberry, Céline, Chanel, Christian Dior, Fendi, Goyard, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Valentino. Do not panic if you do not see your favorite brand, because eBay will expand the program next year.
Besides giving buyers some peace of mind, this program also helps eBay avoid being liable for selling counterfeit goods. Selling counterfeit goods infringes on the real owner’s trademark, and to win a claim the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s mark is likely to cause confusion among the relevant consuming public. Because most people buy counterfeit goods on purpose, the law requires that the mark must cause confusion with people who see the bag, and not those who bought it.
Plaintiffs can even go after the legit businesses who help those sell counterfeit goods aka eBay! In order to get eBay on the hook, a plaintiff would have to allege facts showing that eBay knew or turned a blind eye to the infringement or even participated in the infringement. In the past eBay has successfully defended itself from these claims by showing it monitored and removed suspect items. This new program will help with any potential defenses the online auction site may face.
Given the criminal and civil penalties for selling counterfeit goods it is difficult to understand why people still make and sell them, but the answer is simple really: it is demand. If there was not a huge demand for Frada or other counterfeits then the supply would go away as well. Some countries in the EU have tried imposing consumer liability to help the problem so maybe that’s the solution. Another solution is to educate the public on the harm counterfeit goods cause to the brands and the people.
In the meantime, let’s give it up for eBay for helping us authentically stay chic.
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