15 July 2008

It looks like the luck of Ebay might just be changing!!

The long awaited ruling in the landmark trademark trial of Tiffany (NJ) Inc. and Tiffany and Company v. eBay Inc is here at last!

Yesterday the District Judge Sullivan of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, delivered the ruling in favour of eBay which will, no doubt, breathe a sigh of relief after the scathing rulings of the French Courts earlier in July in actions brought by LVMH and Hermes against eBay.

The first allegation by Tiffany was that eBay "actively advertised the availability of Tiffany merchandise" on its website and using sponsored links on Google and Yahoo!. The judge ruled that the only way a "Tiffany" product could be described by sellers was to use the brand "Tiffany."

The second argument of Tiffany was that eBay should be held liable for the sale of counterfeit Tiffany products on its website. Taking into account the fact that eBay acted promptly once it was notified of infrigements by Tiffany, the judge reject the theory of "infringement in the air" advanced by Tiffany.

In short, this judgment from the US clarifies that it is the job of the trademark owner to police its mark rather than the job of the platform.

This judgement will no doubt be welcomed by all the intermediaries and, in particular, eBay whose business models were very much threatened by the recent rulings in the French jurisdiction.

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