Luxury goods manufacturers have been increasingly protective of brands, and Parisian courts have sided with homegrown companies against eBay twice now with a ruling against the online auction site in the amount of €40 million ($63 million) for its role in facilitating the trade in knockoff Louis Vuitton handbags, luggage and other accessories. Christian Dior, another brand owned by Vuitton parent LVMH, had earlier won a small judgment against eBay in French courts for the unauthorized sale of Dior perfumes — the perfumes were real, but were in breach of exclusivity agreements Dior had signed with other retailers.
In its defense, eBay says this is simply an attempt to "to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers." The company's system by which manufacturers can flag suspicious and possibly fraudulent sales was not enough to mollify manufacturers or the French magistrate. It certainly sounds a lot like YouTube's laissez-faire approach to policing copyright on the video sharing site. But YouTube has the protection of the DMCA here in the United States and a broadly equivalent law, DADVSI, in France. There are no laws on the books in either country to protect eBay's right to operate like Los Angeles's Santee Alley or New York's Canal Street markets. (Photo by L. W. Yang)