Tracking down counterfeits on eBay: whose responsibility is it?
It was a late afternoon in London, when Chris Littleton, marketing manager for eBay, and Suzanne de Viliers, Louis Vuitton’s chief legal advisor, stepped out of the conference venue to grab some sunlight. The Anti-Counterfeiting group, a non-proﬁ t trade association, had convened its annual meeting to bring together its members, nearly 200 companies and organizations, for whom counterfeiting is an issue. They are either affected in their business as original brand owners or as advisors. 2
Over the past few days, Suzanne and Chris had been attending lots of workshops and discussions around a topic that was of major concern to all of them-–counterfeiting. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group has come up with a deﬁ nition that captures the phenomenon: “ product counterfeiting is a crime, a deliberate attempt to deceive consumers by copying and marketing goods bearing well-known trademarks, together with packaging and product conﬁ guration, so that they look like they are made by a reputable manufacturer when they are, in fact, inferior illegal copies. ” 3 For the counterfeiter that means piggybacking on someone else’s brand and marketing success without major investments, thus high proﬁ t margins and comparatively low risk. For the consumer-–they get the prestige of the original brand without paying for it!