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Frustration for UK brands as eBay is fined for fakes

LVMH’s landmark case against auction website eBay for failing to block sales of counterfeit goods will fuel similar cases in the French courts, but UK law could prevent brands here from following suit.

eBay has been ordered to pay LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, almost €40 million (£31m) for failing to prevent the sales of fake luxury goods.

Philippe Pochet, of French law firm Foucaud, Tchekhoff, Pochet et Associés, expects more brands in France to follow LVMH’s example. “This is a landmark case and all the famous brands, like Gucci and PPR, will do the same,” he said. “eBay receives regular notification letters from owners of trademarks but doesn’t do enough to combat the problem.”

But UK brands could struggle to win a similar judgement, as French law means eBay could be at fault whether or not it knows the goods are fake. “In the UK the brand would have to prove eBay knew the goods were fake,” said Stephen Sidkin, partner at law firm Fox Williams.

Miriam Lahage, chief executive of designer discount etailer Koodos, welcomed the French court’s decision. She said: “Brands have been hurt for so long over counterfeit claims and it affects etailers too. I heard that one in four products sold online is a fake, which obviously makes people suspicious about shopping on the internet.”

eBay, which is appealing against the ruling, said: “This is not about counterfeits; it’s about LVMH trying to protect uncompetitive commercial practices.”

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