EBay May Be Liable for Counterfeits Sold in EU

     (CN) – Online marketplaces are responsible for protecting the trademark of goods sold on the Internet, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday, slamming eBay for turning a blind eye on counterfeit L’Oréal products.

     France-based L’Oréal and other luxury brand names sued eBay, alleging it facilitated the sale of counterfeit products.
     Any retailer has a fundamental right to protect its brand, including in any nonprivate, online sales, the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union ruled.
     If an online marketplace operator plays an “active role” in allowing the sale of trademark-violating merchandise, or if it was aware of violations but did not act quickly enough, the marketplace may not be free from liability even though it did not exactly “use” the protected mark, the court said.
     The UK’s high court had referred the questions to the EU tribunal, noting that eBay put some good-faith measures in place to stop the sale of counterfeits, although L’Oréal for its part argued that eBay uses its brand name as paid AdWords on the Google search engine.
     The Court of Justice added that it should be up to national courts in EU member countries to determine whether sales in non-EU countries are aimed toward the union. These courts may also use injunctions to enforce this, the EU court concluded.
     Lancôme, another perfume manufacturer, was among the plaintiffs in the case.

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