Apr 21 2009

D-Day for eBay in Germany

Published by at 8:35 pm under Companies,Top Stories

Today is a big day for eBay (and South Africa’s media group Naspers) in Europe.

A German court will rule in a case, which could rob eBay in Germany (and other European countries) of lots of turnover, if the decision goes the wrong way.

The Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) carried a full-page report this morning about the case, the facts and why the outcome was so important to eBay (and all operators of auction platforms, including MIH Internet Europe, which operates countless platforms in 13 EU countries). 

The case was brought by a stationery shop owner called Wolfgang Anders. Like many independent stationery shops in Germany, his has been on the slippery slope to nowhere for a while. Lucky for him, he discovered eBay a few years ago and has been making a steady turnover with school bags of the well-known Scout brand in his own eBay shop. He is a so-called eBay powerseller – a professional. 

But, Scout doesn’t like the fact that Anders undercuts his “real world” stationery shop partners, selling Scout products for considerably less than they do.

Scout received complaints. But, that’s not all. Scout had decided not to use the internet as a sales channel at all – it hasn’t even got an own website. So, Scout stopped supplying Anders.

And Anders went to court.

Should Scout be successful, it might be the beginning of the end of many other branded products on eBay – and on other auction platforms. This will be especially painful for eBay in Germany, which has launched a new-branded-goods-sold-at-fixed-prices-and-in-limited-quantities section a few months ago – with great success. 

This leg will be the first to go, if Scout wins today. I’ll keep my eyes open for the outcome in tomorrow’s paper.

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