A Belgian court has dismissed all claims against eBay in a counterfeit suit filed by cosmetics maker L'Oreal on behalf of its Lancome subsidiary, saying the online auction venue is not obligated to verify the legality of third-party listings on its sites.
The court further concluded that the procedures eBay has in place to combat counterfeiting activity are adequate.
The ruling from the Belgian Tribunal de Commerce counters two recent French court decisions that held eBay directly liable for the sale of designer knock-offs by individual sellers using its e-commerce platform. But it echoes the conclusion of a U.S. court in the case of Tiffany vs. eBay, which was dismissed a month ago. Jewelry maker Tiffany is appealing that ruling.
eBay has long contended that certain luxury brand owners are more worried about protecting the distribution and pricing of their products than fighting the sale of fakes. Following the Belgian court's ruling, eBay said the decision exposes the litany of counterfeiting suits pending against it as "merely a stalking horse."
"eBay provides a vibrant and trusted marketplace that gives European consumers a good deal," the company said in a released statement. "We work to tackle the menace of counterfeit through action and co-operation with rights owners."
L'Oreal, which is also suing eBay in France, Germany, Great Britain and Spain, expressed its "utmost surprise" at the ruling, saying the court is "mistaken in its decision to minimize the role of eBay in the sale of products on its platform."
L'Oreal said it will appeal the ruling.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.