December 1, 2009, 12:00 AM

eBay plans to appeal $2.55 million fine by a French court

Ebay says it has made a good faith effort to halt sales of such items as Loewe perfumes, in keeping with a 2008 injunction. But eBay says some sellers are deliberately misrepresenting products to get around eBay’s efforts to stop such sales.

In the ongoing battle in Europe over eBay sales of luxury products, a French court has fined eBay Inc. $2.55 million for failing to stop the sale of luxury products from LVMH group, such as Christian Dior and Loewe perfumes. EBay says it will appeal.

The Commercial Court of Paris fined eBay for failing to comply with a June 2008 injunction ordering the online marketplace to stop eBay users in France from buying or selling LVMH perfumes and cosmetics. EBay says it has deployed filtering software to identify those products and prevent their sale, but that some sellers are getting around that technology by posting items with misspelled brand names or no brand names at all.

"Today`s outcome hurts consumers by preventing them from buying and selling authentic items online,” Alex von Schirmeister, general manager of eBay in France, said in a statement Monday following the court ruling. “The injunction is an abuse of `selective distribution.’ It effectively enforces restrictive distribution contracts, which is anti-competitive. We believe that the higher courts will overturn this ruling and ensure that e-commerce companies such as eBay will continue to provide a platform for buyers and sellers to trade authentic goods."

Several European luxury brands have sued eBay in recent years, alleging that the company does not do enough to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods. EBay, which has won in some cases and lost in others, has argued that such suits are an effort by luxury goods makers to prevent online retailers from offering high-ticket items at discounted prices.

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