L'Oreal loses to eBay in counterfeit case

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ebay European union

L’Oreal has lost to eBay in a Belgian court after it tried to sue the online auction site for selling counterfeit goods.

The Tribunal de Commerce ruled in favour of eBay, dismissing claims from the cosmetics giant that the online auction site was not doing enough to prevent the sale of counterfeit Lancôme products.

Belgium is the first to rule on the case

L’Oreal awaits the decision of courts in the four other European nations where the case was filed.

Although the company has acknowledged the court’s decision, it expresses ‘utmost surprise’ at the result and has stated it will appeal.

In a statement, L’Oreal said it believed the court to be mistaken in its decision to minimise the role of eBay in the sale of products on its platform.

Indeed the company went further, saying the ruling does not agree with the recent interpretation of the eCommerce Directive.

“L'Oréal believes that this judgement by the court digresses from the interpretation of the eCommerce Directive provided in recent months by the European Commission,” ​said a L’Oreal spokesperson.

The France-based cosmetics company also highlighted the contrasting ruling made by the commercial court in Paris earlier this summer, when e Bay was called to pay €40m in damages to luxury group LVMH.

At the time of the ruling eBay declared it intended to appeal the decision arguing that it was an attempt by LVMH to ‘protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice’.

Conflicting rulings

It appears the state of play regarding the role online auction sites play in ensuring the legitimacy of goods sold on their sites is far from clear.

Just a few weeks after the Paris court had ruled in favour of the luxury products group, a US court rejected Tiffany’s case against eBay finding that it was the job of the luxury jewellery brand to police its own trademark.

eBay claims it spends over $20m a year to ensure that counterfeit goods are found and removed.

The online auction site says it works with over 18,000 brand owners to identify and removed counterfeit goods which are then removed, however it maintains that the onus of protecting trademarks should fall on the copyright owners rather than those providing the marketing platform.

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