eBay Intellectual Property Enforcement

I’m selling a lot of junk on eBay right now, something I do every year or so. This time around I’ve been caught by surprise at all the rejected listings.

I have a piece of software shipped with computers (so-called OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer) about 20 years ago. eBay blocked it after a couple of days saying I have to ship the original computer with it. Fair enough, that was the license I guess but I have no idea where the original computer is.

I have a number of stickers for household security which was blocked for trademark infringement. Given that they are genuine stickers and I’m not misrepresenting them as real when they’re fake, this is apparently complete bullshit. eBay is being used as a tool by the manufacturer to make these spurious claims and kill the market. eBay advises you that you basically can’t do anything about it apart from contact the company making the complaint, who of course have no interest in talking to you.

I have two language learning sets with, I don’t know, 25 DVDs each or something. Both have just been blocked for copyright infringement after a complaint from the manufacturer. I’m squinting to see that one. I would guess it might be a license infringement but copyright sounds like a stretch. But what do I know.

So, four items for sale blocked for apparent license, trademark and copyright violations that I was essentially unaware of and surprised to see.

The key points are that eBay isn’t really on the customers side here, they won’t even talk to you. IP enforcement is much bigger than it used to be on eBay and whatever the rights and wrongs is holding back the secondary market. And, all these items are now destined for landfill instead of being reused by people who either can’t buy them new (literally they’re not for sale any more) or can’t afford the first sale price. Which is a shame.

2 Responses to eBay Intellectual Property Enforcement

  1. Frederik Ramm October 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    On a related note, and I don’t know how this is handled elsewhere, eBay in Germany has killed the market for ready-made Garmin SD cards with OpenStreetMap maps on them, because eBay has a policy against selling non-empty, rewritable media of any kind.

  2. Jeremy Malcolm January 21, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Yeah, this is bad. In particular, they certainly cannot legally stop you from reselling the language learning DVDs just by putting that in the licence agreement (if they did). There is a thing called the first sale doctrine. If it was as simple as overcoming it with a few words in the licence agreement, the second hand book and CD/DVD markets would not exist.

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