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How to report a seller on eBay

How to report a seller on eBay
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So, what happens if you’ve found someone selling counterfeit copies of your product on eBay? Here at Red Points, we deal with problems like these constantly, so we’ve created this straightforward guide to help you report the eBay seller, and to take down those fake products.

Brand protection challenge on eBay

Ecommerce sales have been a lifeline for businesses that are quick enough to take advantage of the shift in consumer behavior, but the surge of ecommerce sales has worsened existing brand protection issues.

As consumer demand has grown and supply chains have been disrupted, opportunistic counterfeiters have stepped up to take advantage of both the shortages of real products and the increased use of e-commerce by fashion and luxury brands.

Here are some of the brand protection challenges online sellers like eBay face.

Copyright Infringement

A copyright is a set of rights that are immediately yours when you create original work.  Among these privileges include the ability to perform and show the work in public and the right to copy, distribute, perform, and create derivative works based on the work.

As the copyright owner, it is up to you to decide whether or not to keep each of your products and distribute them separately or collectively. It’s possible to achieve this through licensing, assignment, and various other transfer mechanisms. Having copyright gives you control over the distribution of your work.

Patent Infringement

The fundamental objective of the patent law is to foster technological advancement and commercialization. Public disclosure of inventions in exchange for exclusive rights is a key component of the patent system. Inventions are shielded from infringement by the use of patents.

New processes, equipment, manufacturers, and compositions of matter can all be included in this category, as can modifications to existing ones. Computer programs may be covered by both patents and copyrights, depending on the subject matter.

The patent system compliments copyright protection by providing patent protection for functional parts of the software. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patent protection only when an applicant has applied for and been awarded one.

However, the patent application procedure is extremely time- and cost-intensive and should not be performed without the assistance of an experienced attorney or agent.

Trademark Infringement

According to the USPTO, “a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. When used to identify and distinguish the supplier of a service rather than goods, a service mark can take many forms, including words, phrases, symbols, and even designs.

Brand names, slogans, and logos are a few examples. It is common to use the term “trademark” to refer to both trademarks and service marks collectively. If you don’t want to register your trademark or service mark with the USPTO, you don’t have to. However, there are certain legal advantages to doing so.

For example, when a graphic image is used as a logo, the design may be protected both under copyright and trademark law.

What is eBay’s counterfeit policy?

Many people use eBay every day, making it one of the most popular online marketplaces in existence. There is no way to know in advance if a seller has the authority to sell their products because of the massive volume of transactions that take place each day.

As a result, eBay established the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program to safeguard the rights of intellectual property owners.

eBay VeRO program

Owners of intellectual property rights are prohibited from participating in VeRO. Additionally, you are unable to report stolen property through the VeRO software. You can inform the appropriate law enforcement agency if you feel that a listed item has been stolen. Unless eBay gets a notice from law authorities, the site cannot take action on stolen goods.

How to report a seller on eBay

Step 1: Prepare all your information

First things first, you’ll want to have all the important details ready.

Authorisation and proof of ID

  • If you are acting as an individual, you will be required to provide personal details and possibly a scanned copy of a photo ID.
  • If you are an agent working with the Intellectual Property (IP) owner, you will need a physical or e-signed document authorising you to act on their behalf.
  • If you are acting as an agent of a business you will need a certificate of corporation.

Evidence of the infringement

  • A screenshot or link to the infringing listing, the location of the infringing material on eBay, coupled with a description of the item, including details such as its ID number, price and seller details.

Intellectual property (IP) information

This includes any relevant details, such as:

  • The IP owner
  • Trademark registration number
  • Patent number
  • Design right registration number
  • The regions of IP registration

Copyright

Through VeRO, you can also report alleged copyright infringements via a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notification sent to eBay’s designated agent, ensuring you send all the details requested. The full list can be found by following this link.

Step 2: Use VeRO to your advantage

 
VeRO is eBay’s Verified Rights Owner program; their response to mounting pressure from brands and consumers, created to deal with IP rights complaints. The program aims to give rights owners (and agents acting on their behalf) the ability to report listings that infringe on their intellectual property.

The owner of intellectual property rights can file a Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI) via eBay’s VeRO program if an item infringes on their rights. 

Please email vero@ebay.com or fax (801) 757-9521 your NOCI. You can also notify eBay’s designated agent of copyright infringements by sending a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notification, which includes the information listed below:

  • A physical or electronic signature of someone authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the infringed copyright.
  • Identification or description of the copyrighted work Identification or description of the location on eBay where the items were seen
  • Physical address, phone number, and email address are all required.
  • A declaration stating that the copyright owner or his agents do not approve of the allegedly infringing items being sold.
  • A statement stating that the above information is correct, as well as the countries in which the work is protected by copyright.

Sellers should follow these guidelines to develop VeRO-compliant listings.

  • They write their own descriptions and take their own images for their listings. They should never copy text or photos from other eBay listings, web searches, manufacturer websites, third-party product catalogs, or other sources without first obtaining permission from the content owner.
  • Check that all of the statements and claims in their listings are correct and thorough. Owners of intellectual property may take issue with listings that make incorrect, inaccurate, or misleading statements about their brands or products.
  • If selling trademarked items, sellers can include their own images and specify the brand name in the listing. They should not, however, claim to be an authorized dealer or reseller unless they are.
  • Examine the profiles of VeRO participants who own intellectual property rights. Intellectual property owners who report goods through the VeRO program are encouraged to build a participant profile that specifies their rules and procedures for dealing with infringing materials.

What can I report?

eBay will accept a removal request if a product or listing infringes on your IP rights; these can be broken down in trademark and copyright infringements. You can find the full eBay IP policy here.

Trademark infringements

This is the use of a logo on product/service or unauthorised association. Counterfeits are a form of trademark infringement; they are products which explicitly try to imitate a product by copying design or patent elements and also branding components. The selling policy on eBay explicitly states that replica products are not permitted on the site. These are products that imitate a copyrighted design or patent illegally. Replicas do not explicitly use a company’s logo or other trademarked items but rather copy function or design elements.

Copyright issues

This could be protected images, text and videos on the site. If a seller is using a business’s content without permission then the owner of the image can request to have it removed from the listing.

What won’t VeRO remove?

As long as the listing does not infringe on any intellectual property rights and was obtained legally, eBay will reject complaints that are filed on the grounds of the following:

Distribution issues

Ebay will not uphold any complaints filed by intellectual property owners that desire to exert control over where their products are resold. They will dismiss complaints that are filed in an attempt to compel the performance of distribution agreements by authorized vendors.

Pricing

eBay will not investigate complaints that products are being sold for less than the quoted minimum price.

Placement

Whether limits are imposed between sellers and suppliers on image use, description, or mode of sale, such restrictions are considered contractual issues, and eBay will not investigate or support any complaints of this sort.

What happens to sellers who violate the VeRO policies?

This includes selling restrictions and perhaps a complete suspension from the site if the seller continues to infringe on intellectual property rights. An owner of the rights might be contacted directly by a seller who believes his listing was mistakenly reported. An email is sent to sellers when one of their items is denied, which includes the rights owner’s contact information.

Sellers can ask eBay to retract their complaint if the rights owner made a mistake. Depending on the circumstances, sellers may be eligible for a refund of the fees they paid to list an item on eBay. According to the policy and whether or not it is their first offense, the refund amount varies.

Also, sellers can’t re-upload listings that have been deleted without first repairing them. However, sellers can simply amend the listing and re-upload if only the description, photographs, and text are in violation of the rules.

What now?

If you’re still confused, feel free to email us at: info@redpoints.com and we can help you through this process.

This guide is part of a series. If you’re having problems on websites other that eBay, check out our guides for:

If you’ve followed this guide, then soon the counterfeit will be down, and with some luck, you’ll never see a counterfeit again! But, things aren’t ever that simple. You can report sellers on eBay and remove fake items one by one, but it’s a slow, inefficient process, and your counterfeit issue may be far deeper than you even realise. For a full, long-term solution to your counterfeit issues, get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to help put an end to your worries.

Red Points’ legal disclaimer.
The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of Red Points. The services of the Red Points Blog are not of a legal or advisory nature and no responsibility is accepted for the results of any actions made on the basis of its services. Before taking specific actions in relation to IP protection or enforcement all customers are advised to seek independent legal advice.

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