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June 22, 2004
Tiffany's sues eBay under shaky TM theory for failure to police counterfeits
Favorite first-breakfast jeweler Tiffany & Co. has filed a trademark lawsuit against eBay, claiming that it allows too many counterfeit Tiffany items for auction.
The lawsuit asks that eBay be stopped from listing any "Tiffany" merchandise that is not genuine and for eBay to account for profits it made on the sale of counterfeit Tiffany merchandise or else pay up to $1 million for each type of fake Tiffany merchandise sold on the Web site.
While I can understand Tiffany's outrage that as much as 73 percent of all listed items under their name are fake, the rationale for the suit seems to me increadible overbearing and expansive as a trademark theory, especially since everyone knows that eBay explicitly disclaims any knowledge of whether a particular item is authentic or not when you bid on it.
No one expects newspapers to police their classifieds like this; why should eBay be singled out?
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