eBay is one of the largest e-commerce platforms with millions of active users. Given the huge amount of transactions happening every day, it has no way to verify in advance if sellers have the right to sell their products.
Reasons for infringement
The program allows owners of intellectual property to report sellers who violate the following policies:
A trademark is a unique sign (such as a name, word, phrase, logo, or symbol) that a company uses to identify its products or services. Trademark laws are primarily designed to protect consumers from confusing products commercialized by different companies.
Replica and counterfeit
It is not legal to sell counterfeits, fakes, or replicas of brand-name items.
Brand name misuse
Sellers cannot use product brand names in their listings unless they are authorized distributors or the items they sell are accessories compatible with products by that brand. In the latter case, sellers have to use the wording "compatible with", "fits", or "for" before a brand name. For example, if you sell non-branded iPhone cases you can't use the brand "Apple" in your listing. However, you can say "phone cases compatible with iPhone X"
Sellers can include logos in their listing descriptions only if they have been previously authorized by the owner. Bear in mind that creating a logo similar to an existing one might result in trademark infringement.
Listings that contain a misrepresentation of an item's warranty are in violation of trademark laws. Information related to the warranty of a product is material information and you should never misrepresent it. You should carefully read the T&Cs or contact the manufacturer to make sure your potential buyers are actually eligible for the warranty you want to mention in your listing. For example, product re-selling can sometimes break a warranty agreement. Make sure it is not the case of the products you want to sell, otherwise you would fall into a policy violation.
Copyright is the legal protection given to authors of creative works such as movies, music, software, photographs, and books, both published and unpublished. Copyright protection prevents others from using the work without the author's permission. Image and text: using someone else's image or description without authorization violates copyright laws. Media, software, movies and paintings: selling unauthorized copies of media products, software or paintings represents a violation of copyright laws.
Design right (Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand only):
Design rights apply to a product's appearance, shape, and configuration but not to its functionality. Design rights protect a product's design from being copied and used by unauthorized persons.
Patent rights (Europe)
A patent is a specific set of rights granted to inventors. Patents give the right to block others from making, using, and selling your own invention. You can register a patent at your closest regional patent and trademark office.
Some products might be protected by copyright and trademark laws only in specific countries. Make sure your products are not subject to copyright in the country you want to sell. In case they are, you have to ask for authorization. Always be careful when selling internationally. Policies might change from a country to another and you need to make sure you are always allowed to sell in a specific region.
Who and what the VeRO program is for
Only intellectual property rights owners can join the VeRO program. Also, you can not use the VeRO program to report stolen items. If you identify a listed item that you believe it was stolen, you can contact the relevant law enforcement body. eBay cannot take action about stolen items unless it receives a report from law enforcement.
How to report an item
If an item violates intellectual property rights, the owner can report the infringement by submitting a Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI) to eBay's VeRO program. You can submit the NOCI via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via fax to (801) 757-9521. It is also possible to report copyright infringements via a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notification sent to the eBay designated agent by providing the following information:
- A physical or electronic signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright that has been infringed
- Identification or description of the copyrighted work
- Identification or description of where the items have been viewed on eBay
- Physical Address, telephone number and email address
- A statement that declares that the copyright owner or his agents do not authorize the sale of the allegedly infringing items
- A statement to declare that the above information is accurate and the countries where the work is subject to copyright
Create legally compliant listings
In order to create listings compliant with the VeRO program, sellers should:
- Create their own listing content using their own descriptions and take their own photos. They should never use text or images copied from other listings on eBay, web searches, manufacturer websites, third-party product catalogues, or other sources without a specific permission from the owner of the content.
- Make sure that all statements and claims in their listings are accurate and complete. Rights owners may object to listings that contain false, inaccurate, or misleading claims about their brands or products.
- If selling branded products, sellers can mention the brand name in the listing and include their own photos. However, they should not declare they are an authorized dealer or reseller if they are not.
- Review the VeRO participant profiles of intellectual property rights owners. eBay encourages intellectual property rights owners who report items through the VeRO program to create a participant profile that explains their policies and procedures concerning infringing items.
What happens to sellers who violate the VeRO policies?
Sellers who continue to violate intellectual property rights may be subject to a range of consequences, from selling restrictions to full suspension from the site. If a seller believes his listing was flagged by mistake, he can contact the rights owner directly. Sellers receive an email that includes the rights owner's contact information when one of their listings gets rejected. If the rights owner actually made a mistake, sellers can ask eBay he retracts his report. When eBay removes a listing, sellers might get a refund of the listing fees. The amount of the refund depends on what policy they violate and whether it is the first time. Also, sellers can't re-upload removed listings without fixing them first. However, if the violated policy is just about description, images, and text, sellers can simply edit the listing and re-upload.
Keep in mind that eBay removes reported listings as soon as it receives an infringement notice. Given resource constraints, eBay might warn sellers in advance. Therefore, always make sure your listings fully comply with the above policies in order not to fall in sudden product disapprovals and removals.
Building high-quality listings is your chance to stand out and climb to the top of the eBay search results.
Now is the time to make that extra effort you need to optimize your listings and boost sales! Every eBay store owner needs to understand how to present its listings to buyers and convince to make a purchase.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and best of luck and happy listing!