Sep 17 2008

Sleepless in Oranjezicht

Published by at 10:18 pm under Companies

First published on my old blog on 2/7/2008. 

The eBay/Louis Vuitton story continued to make waves in the German media today with, among others, another long story in the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD). 

The article gave an indication of the dimensions of the problem. It quoted eBay as saying it checked (for legality) and removed 2,2 million “potential fakes” from the platform in 2007. Just imagine the costs attached to this policing action! 

But, the most important paragraph (for the folks in Cape Town) came right at the end of the article:

“When it comes to trademark piracy, the officials of the EC Commission are stepping up the pressure. Commissioner of the internal market Charlie McCreevy demanded more engagement from web traders in the fight against falsified goods. “Brand owners and online platforms should get together to search for solutions,” said McCreevy. “Should there be no solution, the pressure for legislation on the EU level will increase,” he said. 

Not a very comforting thought for online platform owners!

It looks like unavoidable additional costs are on their way to portals, such as the ones operated by Tradus. 

Why? Because even when platforms and brand owners were “to get together to find a solution”, there is no way the brand owners can “give” anything. In the trade mark world, there is no such thing as being soft on violators. As the owner of the rights you have to be seen as willing and able to defend your rights…and then do it. 

The world of trademarks is where the rule “defend it, or lose it” governs. (OK, the rule “use it, or lose it”, as well. But, that’s a different story.) 

Owners of trademark rights cannot, for instance, say to online platforms they’ll stomach right-infringements for a period of, say, four weeks (to give the platforms time to check and remove), before they take legal action. Zero tolerance is the only way to go. 

All in all, not a very comforting development for the proud, new Tradus owners down in the Mother City.

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