Ethical issues in eBay vs Tiffany & Company

eBay is the most popular auctioning website that exist in this day and age. It allows people to sell and buy their personally owned merchandise for much cheaper prices than the ones that are listed in the retail stores. On eBay, people are known for selling anything one could imagine. This includes, apparel, computer operated devices and books. But despite the deals that people are known for getting when they do their shopping on the eBay website, the company has came under fire for allowing its users to falsely advertise their products in effort to get them sold faster and for higher payouts. On the other hand, Tiffany & Company is a high-end jewelry retailer here, in the United States of America. The company is known for the luxurious items that they offer to the public, which include their signature heart-shaped, diamond pendants. Though these two companies carry out their operations in different sectors of the business, Tiffany & Company and eBay’s paths crossed in early 2010 when Tiffany & Company filed a lawsuit against the auctioning website.

In 2010, Tiffany & Company took the eBay company to court for allowing eBay’s sellers to sell counterfeited Tiffany & Company jewelry. Throughout the proceeding, Tiffany & Company demanded that eBay be ordered to pay them some monetary compensation in the amount of money that Tiffany & Company lost as a result of the people using eBay to sell inauthentic Tiffany & Company merchandise. When it was all said and done, the presiding judge ended up ruling in eBay’s favor and Tiffany & Company did not receive the restitution for which the company was initially looking. “The court concluded that despite the evidence that eBay had general knowledge that some of its customers had used its website to sell counterfeit Tiffany merchandise, eBay itself could not be held liable for direct or contributory trademark infringement or for trademark dilution,” Dmitriy Tishyevich states in his article, “Tiffany Inc. v. eBay Inc.” (2010).

I agree with the lawsuit that Tiffany & Company brought against eBay and its inability to monitor the items that the company’s users are marketing toward the general public. As the owner of the auctioning website, I just feel that eBay needs to exhibit some sort of overseeing to prevent instances such as the one mentioned and described in the JOLT Digest article, “Tiffany Inc. v. eBay Inc.” There is a bit of discrepancy that occurs in the fact that eBay says that their company cannot be responsible for the behavior that its users exhibit being that the eBay website exists with the sole purpose of serving as just that of the hosting website that is there to accommodate such transactions. However, being that eBay—as the company name—gets the recognition for being the entity to hosts the online auctions that take place and consequently, reaps all of the funds from the advertisers and the sellers who are required to pay a percentage of the earnings that they make from their auction transactions, eBay—still being the company name—should be forced to pay the price for their users who use the website to commit fraud against others. The fact that eBay does not do more to prohibit its users from carrying out such acts of deceit proves that there is a rift within the company’s corporate culture. No matter how one looks at it, false advertising is false advertising and the laws of the United States of America say that is not allowed to take place on any forum. Such negligence in protecting the best interests of its customers divulges eBay’s true intentions, which involves that of making money and not protecting those who visit and shop on the website.

References

Tishyevich, D. Tiffany inc. v. ebay inc. JOLT Digest. Retrieved from             http://jolt.law.harvard.edu/digest/jurisdiction/2nd-circuit-decisions/tiffany-inc-v-    ebay-inc