eBay Tackles Fakes

Auction site steps up efforts to combat sale of counterfeits.

by Auctiva.com staff writer
- May 19, 2009

Days after a Paris judge sided with eBay in a counterfeit perfumes case, the auction site is stepping up its efforts to combat fakes.

eBay has announced the launch of its "Fighting Fakes with eBay" campaign on its U.K. site, encouraging people in the electronics industry to team up with the site's VeRO program to stop counterfeits. And the company has adjusted its user agreement to address the sale of fakes.

"Recent high-profile litigation against eBay by a small number of rights owners is an all-too-obvious indication that some brands believe eBay is not doing enough to prevent counterfeit items from appearing on the site," notes Doug McCallum, eBay Europe's senior vice president.

But eBay says it's committed to stamping out the sale of bogus items. "Trust in our site is undermined by the presence of counterfeits," the Web site states. And fakes provide a bad customer experience.

It's becoming harder to spot unauthentic goods as counterfeiters are getting more sophisticated, McCallum says. That's why the company encourages rights owners to help in its efforts to fight fakes.

"We invest millions of dollars annually to prevent potential counterfeits from appearing, and millions more removing from our sites the few that slip through," McCallum tells AuctionBytes. "Clearly, as we do not have the expertise to assess the authenticity of every branded product, we were unable to tackle the problem alone."

With the changes in the User Agreement, buyers must now return items to the sellers they bought them from if they suspect the goods aren't legit. Previously, buyers didn't have to do this. eBay or the seller will be responsible for costs. And if eBay finds that a buyer is "not acting in good faith," the site will restrict or not allow the buyer to return items or make future claims. The new policy is effective immediately for new eBay users, and will go into effect June 14 for other users.

The change effectively retracts a short-lived policy that many questioned—although it, too, was intended to help fight counterfeits. The policy, which would have taken effect June 1, would have required buyers of suspected forgeries to destroy the items in order to be reimbursed. However, some eBay members argued that destroying suspected fakes would not help solve the issue, and could make it harder to prove a product's authenticity.

"The fight against counterfeits requires a coordinated and global approach with governments, rights owners, law enforcement and industry working together to combat the issue," McCallum says.

eBay removed more than 2 million listings in 2008. Between 70 percent and 80 percent of reported fakes were removed within 12 hours of being reported, according to eBay.

About the Author

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.

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