Tiffany & Co had alleged that eBay, Inc knew about the sale of fake company silver jewelry on its auction Web site. Tiffany held eBay ultimately responsible for not protecting their trademarks.
The judge, Richard Sullivan, rejected all claims against eBay were rejected to stop the sale of counterfeit products online. Tiffany is expected to appeal against the ruling.
EBay said it was not in a position to decide which goods were knock-offs of the prestigious New York brand and had said the jeweler did not adequately participate in eBay’s programs that assist brand owners avert fraud.
The judge said he was sympathetic to Tiffany and others who have invested in building their brands only to see them exploited on the Web. However, he made it clear that the law was on eBay’s side.
“It is the trademark owner’s burden to police its mark and companies like eBay cannot be held liable for trademark infringement based solely on their generalized knowledge that trademark infringement might be occurring on their websites,” wrote Judge Richard Sullivan.
EBay called the ruling a “victory for consumers,” saying it “appropriately establishes that protecting brands and trademarks is the primary burden of rights owners.”
“All I can say to that is that I’d be surprised if Tiffany did not appeal this decision,” said Mark Aaron, Tiffany’s vice president of investor relations.
Aaron said Tiffany was “shocked and deeply disappointed” by the ruling, which “allows sellers of counterfeit goods on eBay to victimize consumers.”