Tuesday, July 22, 2008


A federal judge ruled that Tiffany & Co., not eBay, is responsible for the sale of Tiffany fakes on eBay in the United States. Tiffany is appealing the ruling. It means collectors must be extra careful when buying online. Another word of warning: Auctions can be so exciting they create "auction fever"--and you can pay more for an item than it's worth. Check before the sale and set the top price you think something is worth. Avoid emotional bidding. And be sure you know the auction gallery. Recently several lawsuits have been filed over prints and paintings bought at art auctions on cruise ships. The appraised values turned out to be too high and some of the prints had forged signatures.


Anonymous said...

it seems bizarre that Tiffany would be responsible for tiffany fakes on eBay, as they have no control over that. If one physically attends an auction or antique show and buys a fake, is the promoter or the company that was faked responsible? Not that I know of. The seller or previous owner should be responsible. In the Cruise ship case the seller (often cruise ship employees or a company that works in conjunction with the cruise ship) should be responsible. Making Tiffany responsible for something it can not possibly control sets a dangerous precedent I think.

Anne said...

We call 'Auction Fever' a Feeding Frenzy on E-Bay! Reminds me of a pod of Sharks circling a school of fish.

I was very sorry to hear about the initial Tiffany ruling. E-Bay must take some responsibility for the rampant sale of fakes as it is so widespread, and costing Buyers Millions. Most designer handbags and fragrances are at the top of the knock-off hit list. It is most difficult to purchase these items with certainty that you are not being ripped off. There are entire Discussion Boards dedicated to spotting fake Prada or Chanel.

Avoiding emotional bidding is the first caveat, but the second must be to know your product. Never bid on an item you are not familiar with or which cannot be verified when received. Which leads to the third caveat, know your Seller well...feedback does not always tell the whole story.

kenhotlanta said...

I sell entertainment memorabilia on eBay, especially music posters from the 70's and 80's.
I've sold several posters of Tiffany, the 80's pop star who is still active and I recently tried to relist 2 different posters of her; eBay would not allow the listings, saying they were "in violation of eBay's listing policies" and that I should wait 30days and try again.
Is this paranoia gone wild or what?

Anteekee_monkey said...

Wow. That ruling is REALLY surprising. I'm trying to wrap my head around it.

I can sort of see how Ebay's responsibility could be limited. I guess the big question here is Who is ultimately responsible for shutting down conterfeiters? The answer seems like it would be the company's (in this case Tiffany) responsiblity to go after those committing the fraud. Sue them and shut them down. A daunting and likely impossible task given the sheer enormity of the problem but it seems right, no?

But maybe the responsibility should be shared in this case. If the 2 companies could work together to shut these folks down, it would benefit everyone, except of course those committing the offense.

Hard call but very interesting. I'll be curious to see how the appeal goes.

Anonymous said...

I never really thought about Tiffany until I tried to sell a couple of items given me as gifts which don't really suit me and which I never wear. I listed them saying they were gifts and since I didn't pay for them myself, I had no receipts but had no reason to expect they were anything but genuine, as my Ex could well afford to write the check and his office is a couple of blocks from the store. I didn't put a huge opening bid on any and still, Tiffany objected to my listings and eBay cancelled them. So,then- I thought about and researched Tiffany -they will not authenticate any item brought into one of their stores-I called and asked-they won't-BUT they can tell online that something is a fake? Excuse me, but what I think after doing the math is that they know they are exceedingly overpriced, and I also think they are manufacturing more items overseas and the stuff is walking out the door or falling off the back of trucks and some is not "fake" at all. If they're so proud of it, and it's so marvellous, why not just solve the problem and put serial numbers on? Why not be willing to authenticate items? What I think is they just don't like it when someone asks a fair price on the secondary market. I called my Ex and talked about this-he was a big customer, having a mother and two sisters, but no more. One thing we still agree on is that when we pay for something, we feel WE own it, not the manufacturer.

Anonymous said...

Why would Ebay be responsible for people buying fakes and turning around and selling them as Tiffany. The sites that sell replicas don't advertise them as Tiffany. It is individual people that buy replicas and resell as genuine. Why would the replica seller or Ebay be responsible. If you know they are selling replicas on Ebay, why would you be silly enough to purchase something off the site. Go to Tiffany. That is the issue here. It is not up to Ebay to give thieves a conscience.

Harry said...

Holding "Tiffany & Co." responsible for someone else making a claim that an article is indeed a "Tiffany" is ridiculous. Just because E-Bay claims no responsibility doesn't transfer that to Tiffany.
I would like to see a copy of the judges ruling. Anyone know where to get one?

a_c_green said...

Yes, you can download the entire 66-page judgement in PDF form (readable with the free Adobe Reader software) from http://beckermanlegal.com/Documents/tiffany_ebay_080714Decision.pdf

Anonymous said...

ebay are ONLY interested in lining their own pockets and have No regard for consumers being duped. I have reported Lots of Tiffany listings which are Blatantly fakes and they did NOTHING to close down the auctions or to disbar the sellers who had a Long history of selling Many Tiffany items and some of which were in duplicate! How many people do you know who have several of the same T&Co items? The bottom line is ebay ONLY care about the bottom line - their Profits. Their customer service is appalling Poor.