E-commerce platforms and liability


Sylvio Hodos

Trademarks ensure that thieves can be confronted in a civil court, so trademark protection is the owner’s bark; enforcement its bite.

But e-commerce websites such as eBay have made trademark infringement easy to commit and trademark law has struggled to recapture the bygone days of bootleg merchandise on market stalls, when fakes were easy to spot and remove, as were their sellers.

A complicated affair

The real, and sometimes unconscious of any wrongdoing, culprit is obviously the seller of a trademark-infringing product, but as always in these cases, identifying and accusing every trademark infringer on an e-commerce platform, and then negotiating with them, and if that fails, litigating against them, is wildly inefficient. It’s far wiser to take on the entity which is easily identifiable and best-placed to take action: the e-commerce platform itself.

e-commerce, trademark infringement, counterfeit, liability, eBay