PARIS A French court ordered eBay Inc (EBAY.O)
to pay 38.6 million euros ($61 million) to luxury goods group
LVMH (LVMH.PA) for allowing the sale of fake merchandise, in a
ruling immediately appealed by the online auction website.
Monday's decision, a month after eBay was ordered by
another French court to pay handbag maker Hermes 20,000 euros
for allowing the sale of counterfeits, is the latest episode in
a long fight between luxury goods makers and the world's
biggest online auctioneer.
"We will fight all these decisions in the name of eBay
users, and we have decided to appeal," eBay said in a
"If counterfeit goods are put up for sale on our site, we
scrap them as soon as possible," it said.
EBay accused LVMH of having a hidden agenda.
"Today's decisions are not about fighting counterfeiting.
It's about LVMH's desire to protect commercial practices that
exclude all competition," it said.
LVMH claimed damages of about 50 million euros because it
said eBay's French arm had not done enough to prevent sales of
Monday's ruling decided separate cases by several different
LVMH brands -- LVMH and Dior Couture as well as perfume brands
Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo.
Ebay has been sued by jewelers Tiffany (TIF.N), which
accused it last year of turning a blind eye to sales of
counterfeits, and faces action from L'Oreal (OREP.PA) over the
sale of perfumes on the site.
The issue, which potentially has important implications for
online commerce, has particular resonance in France which has
some of the world's biggest luxury goods makers and which has
been at the forefront of efforts to fight counterfeit goods.
Luxury goods groups accuse eBay, which earns a commission
on sales made through its site, of facilitating forgeries and
counterfeits by providing a marketplace for vendors who
knowingly sell fake items.
EBay says it has stepped up efforts to fight counterfeits
through programs that analyze suspicious sales patterns by
particular vendors as well as VeRO, or verified rights owners,
a system that helps block sales of counterfeits.
But the group, which saw around $60 billion worth of goods
sold across its platforms last year, says that as a host for
independent vendors, it has only a limited responsibility and
capacity to regulate what is sold on its site.
The conseil des ventes, the group that represents
mainstream French auctioneers, has also sued eBay, which it
accuses of trying to circumvent laws regulating the auction
sector by claiming to be a broker.
(Reporting by Thierry Leveque, writing by Swaha Pattanaik
and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by David Cowell)