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Mary Kay Asks Court to Force eBay to Reveal Seller Names

It’s another case of big brands looking to stop sellers from listing their products on eBay and other venues. According to the Dallas News, Mary Kay Inc. is asking a court to force eBay to reveal the identity of sellers who claim to sell genuine Mary Kay products.

“Mary Kay listed about 50 eBay user names such as birdie60, gracefully13, frisbeegirl80 and techwarriorprincess that it says are selling products under its trademarks and copyrights. The company said the products are expired, “many years past their respective shelf lives,”” the newspaper wrote.

Mary Kay is asking the court for help because it says the only way it can learn the identities of the sellers is with eBay’s help.

Mary Kay has gone all the way in the past in its battle against online sellers, taking one former Independent Beauty Consultant to court and convincing a jury to find in its favor on its trademark- infringement and unfair-competition claims, according to this law firm’s report of the case. The court granted most of Mary Kay’s terms in its permanent injunction request – the seller was enjoined from, among other things, using certain names; selling expired or past-shelf life Mary Kay products; and using Mary Kay’s product descriptions to describe her products for sale, for example. But the court refused to enjoin (prevent) the seller from selling Mary Kay consultant stickers, sales aids, and other genuine Mary Kay products.

Mary Kay has a long history of eyeing eBay sellers – EcommerceBytes wrote about Mary Kay’s crackdown over 10 years ago, in 2003. At the time, a spokesperson for Mary Kay said its consultants were independent contractors who sign a contract agreeing not to sell its products on eBay.

Should eBay hand over sellers’ identifying information when asked by brands? That’s for the courts to decide.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.