If this doesn’t affect you now, it may in the future, as a seller, brand owner or manufacturer.
Basically the story goes something like this – ebay was created on the foundation that people could be empowered by building a global trading platform where almost anyone could buy or sell almost anything. Ebay feel that that this foundation is now under threat from some brand owners and manufacturers who are trying to turn back the clock by blocking the sale of their products on online marketplaces and other websites across the EU.
The bottom line here is the right of sellers to compete fairly in the online market place and the right of buyers to be able to access the best possible deals from the widest array of goods.
Some of the not so happy brand owners have argued that their reluctance is to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods on ebay among other things,(and you might think they have a point) but ebay argue that their reluctance to have their brands hosted on ebay amounts to unfair trading practices and they’re calling on EU policymakers to amend the EU competition law to stop these “unfair” trading practices.
E-bay’s position is that brand owners have “descriminated against them”, and I’m sure that many of us remember the Tesco grey market war with Levi’s back in 2001. Levi’s won that round, with the European court ruling that trademark holders can stop businesses importing their products from outside the EU and then selling them without the trademark holder’s OK.
As a manufacturer and brand owner who has veto’d retailers from selling some of our more exclusive brands on e-bay and similar sites, this is squaring up to be an interesting fight, both sides have power and money, but my bet is that intellectual copyright will win out over the rights of the consumer – for now at least.
But it might be worth keeping an eye on this particular battle ground because if the rules are rewritten then selling goods over the internet is going to enter a new phase…