How to use VeRO to kill your competition

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The VeRO program is a bit of a mystery to most eBay users. Often the first time they hear of it is the receipt of an email telling them their auction has been ended for breaching someone’s Intellectual Property (IP) rights. In normal circumstances it’s understandable you shouldn’t be using someone’s trademark, copyright or patent. In practise however it can be almost impossible to verify products from your supplier don’t infringe upon another manufacturers IP.

A major problem with the VeRO program is that some companies consider it a tool to control the market rather than to protect their IP. The VeRO program is not intended to either restrict sales or to control the price goods are offered at.

This popular misconception is still widely accepted e.g. in an article by the Internet Search Engine Database (ISEDB) titled “How Brands Can Mitigate eBay’s Aggressive Search Engine Advertising Tactics“.

They go on to state “There is a way for brands to address unauthorized sales activity on eBay for new merchandise, which essentially is an attempt to low-ball or undercut the retail pricing established through the corporate and authorized retailer channels.” That is going too far, there is absolutely nothing wrong with selling a product on eBay from a particular manufacturer and use of the VeRO program to limit or cease sales is an abuse of the program. VeRO is there to protect your copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights. It is not there to act as a price fixing tool.

Rob Chesnut (Head of Trust and Safety) at eBay Live!, made it clear he would not tolerate VeRO rights holders who use VeRO to control the marketplace rather than to fight fake products. He has actually in the past, following a conversation with a manufacturer who stated they use the program simply because they don’t want their products sold on eBay, terminated their VeRO membership as it’s blatant misuse.

The ISEDB article title is misleading and it’s opening statement encourages misuse of the VeRO program. Whilst VeRO is a great program to protect genuine IP rights restricting sales in an open marketplace or engaging in price fixing is wrong, and in many territories also illegal.

2 Responses

  1. I’m hoping that a proper system will be put into place to impliment Chesnut’s words. I hope this because my company was the victim of a manufacturer who initially used VeRO to fix eBay prices & then went on to grant ‘exclusive rights to sell on eBay’ to one seller, using VeRO to eliminate the competition on the sellers’ behalf.

    At the time (perhaps it is still so), it was not possible for sellers to contact the VeRO team directly. The only process by which decisions could be appealed involved providing ‘proof of copyright’ – which wasn’t even relevant to our issue, esp. as we were only using the manufacturers’ trademark in the form of the product name.

    Here’s also hoping the eBay UK VeRO team (if there is one) also research the difference between trademarks & copyright – and stop quoting US ‘Federal Law’ to UK sellers on the UK site, as they did to us.

  2. The VeRO program shifts power too much towards the rights holder, who can remove items for any reason. The whole program is merely plugging up the holes is a badly organised system where brand owners don’t have any way of verifying genuine products and consumer. This leads to a great number of genuine items being removed from eBay


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