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Wed Mar 27 2013 08:41:28

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Ebay may be a good place to find a good deal on a piece of Tiffany jewelry, but if you just want to buy one of the iconic robin's-egg blue boxes from the site, or sell one, you may be out of luck. One EcommerceBytes reader reported that his wife's listing of a vintage Tiffany watch box was yanked by eBay. (As you may recall, Tiffany sued eBay in a case that bubbled all the way up to the Supreme Court). 

The reader said, "eBay has been arbitrarily enforcing its rule concerning that sellers can not sell empty Tiffany & Co. boxes." He said his wife's listing was canceled because "eBay claims that someone could by the authentic box/case and then go on to list it with a bogus watch and cause problems."

The reader said he understood this, but that there were other, similar listings that were not in fact pulled: "if you do a quick search, you'll find that many similar listings, at least 12, are still on eBay." When his wife mentioned this to eBay's customer service, he wrote, "they said they were going to check further."

My own quick search did not yield empty Tiffany watch boxes, so it's possible eBay was still in the process of taking down listings when this reader wrote in.

So is it right for to eBay take down listings for empty Tiffany watch boxes, when they are authentic? It's not really a question of right or wrong, and eBay is within its legal rights to take down these listings, according to intellectual property attorney Tom Brooke, Partner at Holland and Knight.

"The right to do something and the ability to do something are two different questions," said Brooke. "And certainly Tiffany has the ability and the right to demand things of eBay, if eBay wants to stay in Tiffany's good graces, and avoid lawsuits and problems."

Brooke points out eBay would not want to spar over something that really doesn't make them that much money. "Why get into a fight with someone like Tiffany? Fine, we just won't offer these boxes for sale on our site," he explained.

"There are plenty of other places you could sell it," Brooke pointed out; "you could have a yard sale; if you want, a reverse auction.  There are other sites besides eBay where you can sell things. We do have craigslist and other places. It's just that eBay is the biggest and shiniest of the various online sale sites. So that's where people go the most often."

Brooke acknowledged that some unscrupulous people slapping the labels or packaging of high-end merchants onto fake goods is what causes this skittishness. "They're not the only ones," says Brooke of Tiffany's protectiveness of its packaging. "Some of the big watch and clothing companies have tried to do this," because counterfeit goods and packaging are brought in separately. "So the goods come in and they don't look illegal, they don't look like a problem, but as soon as they get here, somebody sticks an illegal label on them."

Or, someone could buy a genuine Tiffany box from an honest seller on eBay, and then use it to try to help pass off a fake Tiffany item.

For sellers and/or collectors of some high-end boxes, it's one more thing they won't be able to get on eBay.

What do you think? Are fakes such a big problem that companies should worry about their packaging being sold separately on eBay or other sites? Post a comment here!




Comments (12) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: Glor This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 27 10:02:56 2013

This falls in the 'gray area' of ok/not ok to list.

It has a lot to do with the Court ruling, I'm sure.  

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 27 10:25:10 2013

Makes perfect sense. Court ruling should have also stated anything with that trademark name which includes empty box. Due to the fact that ALL ebay buyers and sellers are honest - this is just a scam waiting to happen.

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 27 12:51:01 2013

A few years ago you could buy (on ebay)  Tiffany bags--the bags you get when you buy a Tiff item at the store--and boxes;  even the tissue paper!  If they enforce this however they then HAVE to enforce ALL sales of anything like this--from Coach tissue on down and up.  

And in theory they THEN have to REFUSE to allow sales of any TIffany item IN A BOX--regardless of the provenance--because OF COURSE any Tiff item being sold on ebay is ipso facto a fake.  

As is any Coach;  Louis; Gucci; Carhartt; (yep!) Timberland; Fossil; Cartier; Victorias Secret;--you name it if it has a brand on it then ebay will fall all over telling certain sellers that THEIR item is a fake.  

Mean while if you know where to LOOK on ebay you can find hundreds or more of "hidden" products with similar packaging and branding to "Famous Designer" items.  Many of these come directly from China and are apparently welcomed by ebay.

VERO be damned--if it makes a (big) buck for ebay---all is OK.  

Once again selective enforcement and rules for different sellers.

I am pretty sure if Shen Zhen Giant Industries wants to sell pretty blue boxes they will be allowed or encouraged--and if I have a spare Tiff box lying about the place--and I have several!!!!---I would be slapped.

Same day different stuff.  

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 27 13:52:06 2013

They do the same thing with branded empty eyeglass cases.
MH

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Wed Mar 27 14:02:00 2013

I find this interesting. Bit of a shame tho for people who actually want to honestly sell these authentic boxes and not use them for nefarious purposes.

Here's imo a good post abuot the case:
Some Lessons about Settlement from Tiffany v. eBay:
https://www.fredlaw.com/areas/trademark/Articles/trade_0808_p
et1.html


''....In contrast, eBay appeared to the Court to be doing more than Tiffany to fight counterfeiters. With $20 million a year budgeted to fight fraud in its online marketplace, eBay has 4000 employees in its “Trust and Safety” department, 200 customer service representatives who focus on fighting trademark  infringement, 70 employees who work exclusively with law enforcement officers, a fraud search engine software tool on which eBay spends $5 million a year, a notice-and-takedown system called the Verified Rights Owner Program (“VeRO”) which allows trademark owners to request the removal of suspect listings, and an “About Me” webpage for sellers to discuss their products and post warnings about potentially counterfeit items. Ebay also took additional steps specifically in regard to Tiffany: it issued special warnings to sellers of Tiffany items, it regularly reviewed listings of Tiffany items, it devoted Trust and Safety department employees specifically to the Tiffany listings, and it put Tiffany-specific filters on its fraud search engine to find suspicious listings.

''Another problem for Tiffany was that the Court found that it did not fully utilize eBay’s VeRO program to help stop counterfeit listings on eBay’s website. Under this program, when Tiffany found a suspect listing, it could file a Notice of Claimed Infringement (“NOCI”), which is in essence a good faith declaration that a particular listing of items for sale is illegitimate because the items are counterfeit and the use of Tiffany’s trademark is an infringement. The Court found that, at all times relevant to the case, eBay never refused to remove a suspected listing after receiving a NOCI from Tiffany, that eBay removed suspected listings within 24 hours of receiving a NOCI, that 70-80% of them were removed in 12 hours, that eBay removed more than 284,000 listings in response to NOCIs filed by Tiffany, and that few illicit sellers returned to eBay under new account names once their infringing listings had been removed. Although a Tiffany attorney who was a witness at the trial testified that Tiffany eventually stopped using VeRO because it thought the program was ineffective, Tiffany had made public statements that the program was indeed working, most notably in a 2004 article co-authored by the then vice president of worldwide security services for Tiffany and Co. The Court concluded that “the record reflects that Tiffany could have invested additional resources in monitoring the eBay website” and “had Tiffany done so, Tiffany could have captured more of the infringing listings.”

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: ejholden This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 27 16:36:04 2013


So much for eBay's support of the First Sale doctrine .....

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: East Coast Toy Soldier Show
Web Site

Wed Mar 27 18:08:55 2013

I didn't have a problem with eBay's rules concerning the listing of empty Tiffany & Co. boxes.  After all, it's eBay's playground and we play by their rules.  I did, however; have a major problem that eBay was arbitrarily enforcing the rules especially for European sellers.  When we complained about this to eBay's customer service rep., we received a tepid: ''We'll look into this.'' Bill  

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: pennie6500 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 27 18:25:03 2013

This ebay auction is up as I type; same auction, same photos, same $75 price.  

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 28 20:10:44 2013

So a while back we sold a new case from a Milwaukee drill we purchased we did not need the plastic storage box it came in
I don't see the difference
How can Ebay hold any seller accountable for the buyers actions of a person who may or may not break the law

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 28 22:16:32 2013

eBay is wrong once again. Lets put the VERO Goons and US trade law aside for a moment ....

eBay is pulling them down simply because eBay refuses to stand up for its sellers when faced with a challenge of equal size.

Its easy to bully small sellers, its easy to lie, steal and cheat to protect your own wallet (ebays), its a different thing when theres a guy pushing back and hes the same size as you or larger.

On to the law aspect ... If the items listed are legally obtained original items - then theres no reason to pull them PERIOD.

Items like these (and others) are covered under First sale and Lanham.

eBay isnt going to spend one thin dime of its money though, helping small sellers - theres nothing in it for them. Its easier to throw them to the wolves and then sit back and laugh.

If you seriously believe that eBay has a $20 million a year budgeted to fight fraud in its online marketplace, eBay has 4000 employees in its “Trust and Safety” department, 200 customer service representatives who focus on fighting trademark  infringement, 70 employees who work exclusively with law enforcement officers, a fraud search engine software tool on which eBay spends $5 million a year ... then you are on the best crack that GOD ever made.

Like everything else with eBay its all smoke and mirrors. They tell you seller protection yet it doesnt happen, they tell you that changes are few, and fortold long before they happen - again not true, and of course its things like the magic invisible DSRs that werent supposed to be held against you - but are.

How do I know? Ive gone up against them, Ive been a victim of the VERO goons, Ive lived through eBays lies about who they let create the VERO takedowns and of course WHY.

I have also had the pleasure of being told that entire sections of the DMCA dont apply to sellers, Fair Use is purely at the discresion of the VERO goons in eBays Distrustful & Unsafe Dept, and been told that companies can make up things like "MC012 Unauthorized" violations .. at will.

If the boxes are legit then as the Supreme Court said in Weilly - once its out of the factory - its too bad .... shame eBay didnt bother to read the decision.

(eBay also knows you dont have the money to take them to court, even if you did the amount you would get is less then the amount you spent to get them there, and you agreed to arbitration in front of THEIR crooked judges)(ie its a rigged card game - the house always wins).

Shame once again on eBay - thing slike this dont happen anywhere but on eay ... for a reason!

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

This user has validated their user name. by: Sandymenu

Sat Mar 30 09:21:18 2013

HEY JULIA, You asked:

''What do you think? Are fakes such a big problem that companies should worry about their packaging being sold separately on eBay or other sites?''

If eBay would offer an option (prior ad going live) to seller stating:

They're willing to be sued by certain brand label/companies should they decide to list that specific item, then this would cut down on uneducated sellers listing items they have no proof item is authentic, etc....

''I'' for one, would gladly agree to it and take my chances if approached by Tiffany and other reputable brands.

The problem with authentic vs non-authentic is that there are many sellers that abuse their listing practices either by being uninformed about the item they choose to list.

Especially if the item is ''new'' then I can support to see why Tiffany and others might feel that no-one should be reselling their ''new products'' when infact should be purchased from their own retail stores.

If ''used'' then by signing a ''I'll take my legal chances to resell form'' seems appropriate for me.

eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings   eBay Yanks Empty Tiffany Box Listings

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Mar 30 20:54:57 2013

@Sandy ... eBay does have similar verbage set up for Bose headphones. When you try to list one theres an extra popup window that more or less says something along the lines you mentioned.

I havent sold Bose in ages .... too many emails with "are these real" questions, but I do remember seeing that pop up.  



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