Whether you sell new or used items on eBay, you have to make sure that you have the legal right to do so and that you are not infringing on the property rights of the company whose product you are selling.
Fortunately, if you do the prerequisite research, you will find that it is fairly easy to make sure that your listings abide by the laws and eBay’s policies.
Protecting companies’ intellectual property is always an issue online, especially on eBay. The eBay Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program is in place so that intellectual property owners can easily report listings that infringe on their rights. It also serves as the go-to place to educate yourself regarding intellectual property rights matters.
To see if a particular company/manufacturer has a VeRO policy on eBay, you need to visit the eBay’s Verified Rights Owner About Me Pages. Here, you will find each company that has contacted eBay about creating a specific policy for selling their items within the eBay auction marketplace. This is a very interesting list to peruse, as each company has a slightly different take on what they allow.
eBay also has a tutorial on their intellectual property policies. It is a good idea to take a look at this quick tutorial to make sure that you are not violating any laws or eBay policies.
There have been several recent legal actions taken against eBay by some of the high-end brand names, with the most recent being Tiffany & Co. These companies contend that eBay has not been doing enough to stop the illegal sale of counterfeit items on eBay’s websites. In fact, Tiffany & Co. claims to have conducted a study which concluded that 73% of Tiffany & Co. items purchased on eBay were fakes.
In November 2006, eBay launched an anti-counterfeiting initiative. With this initiative, eBay will do the following on some items/categories that have a high rate of counterfeit products being sold on eBay:
- Your listing may not go live until it has been manually reviewed by an eBay employee.
- eBay will not allow short-term auctions on certain items to give eBay members and rights-holders enough time to review items.
- eBay will restrict cross-border trade on items on its anti-counterfeiting list, i.e. items on this list cannot ship from/to Hong Kong and China.
- eBay will require you to be PayPal Verified if you sell items on their anti-counterfeit list.
Of course, eBay doesn’t publish this above-mentioned anti-counterfeit list. They state that this list is always changing and publishing it would give a heads up to those wrong-doers that sell the counterfeit items. They have a point, but an honest seller will not know if the item they are selling is on the list. You will soon find out when you try to list the item and the listing has been delayed because of one of the above reasons.
Probably the best way to stay out of the cross-hairs of eBay’s VeRO program is to make sure that you sell only genuine products. You also should not “borrow” images and text from other sources on the Internet, especially the manufacturer’s website. Write your own, unique item descriptions and take your own pictures. The only exception to this is if you specifically received permission from the intellectual property owner to use their images and/or text. Make sure you get this in writing!
Selling on eBay is hard enough without having to worry about breaking the law and trampling on someone else’s intellectual property rights. Follow the above advice and links to ensure that you are staying within the letter of the law and do your best to follow eBay’s rules.