EBay not liable for most trademark infringement

EBay should not be liable in most circumstances for trademark infringement on its website, according to a senior legal adviser to the European Court of Justice.

The auction site, however, should be responsible for any infringement on its site from the moment it is notified of any trademark breach.

It should also be liable for the content it transfers to search engines such as Google and Yahoo!.

The “non-binding opinion”, by advocate general Niilo Jaeaeskinen, was delivered in a case involving L’Oreal.

The luxury goods maker has accused eBay of damaging its brand by using L’Oreal trademarks as sponsored links to lead users to perfumes and other cosmetics that infringe trademarks. EBay has denied this.

Jaeaeskinen says: “Whilst eBay is generally exempted from liability for information stored by its clients on its website, it still remains liable for the content of data it communicates as an advertiser to a search engine.”

Both L’Oreal and eBay said they were content with Jaeaeskinen’s opinion.

A L’Oreal spokesman said the opinion goes “in the direction of an efficient fight against the sale of fake brands on the internet”, while an eBay spokesman says that it is “encouraged that the ECJ’s final judgment will reinforce European consumers’ freedom to buy and sell authentic goods online.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here