VeRO strikes again

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TameBay was contacted recently by an eBayer from the Far East who, along with other sellers, has been selling a particular product into the UK and built a successful business. The sellers have all had their listings removed from eBay under the VeRO program.

Although the sellers are sourcing their goods from the manufacturer who is based in the Far East, a European seller has it appears been granted the trademark registration and is removing all other listings for this manufacturers products from eBay.

The complication arises that although a European holds the recognised trademark, other sellers sourcing direct from the manufacturer have done so confident that they are supplying the genuine article, with no fear of unwittingly selling a fake or copy.

The sellers have gone back to the manufacturer, who currently were unwilling to speak to us, on advice of their lawyers who are looking into the situation. In the mean time several sellers have had their policy compliance reduced to “Very Low” and we’re told that at least one seller has had their account suspended.

This is a very real situation and is affecting real people. Without their eBay income they can’t support their families, they can’t pay their rent or buy food.

The VeRO program has long been a thorn in the side of sellers. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree that IP rights owners should be able to protect their work and the income derived from it, it’s not unusual for sellers to be caught in the middle. Gwen, a long time eBay seller trading as Pets_Express, told TameBay about her VeRO experience from several years ago.

Gwen listed a one off item, a black watch tartan dog bed. This was removed under the VeRO program by a German software manufacturer. Gwen doesn’t recall ever receiving an explanation of why the item was removed, but the biggest problem was contacting the company to appeal the VeRO strike.

Gwen sent a total of 32 emails (numbering each one for reference) before eventually receiving a response that the item was removed in error. However it took yet more emails before the company informed eBay and she could relist the item and have the VeRO strike removed from her eBay account.

One of the problems was lack of proper contact details, in this case the company was using a Hotmail email address for VeRO communications. Gwen points out that you don’t even know if they are reading emails sent to them.

Sellers have for many years called for a proper appeals process against VeRO strikes. If the company claiming IP rights doesn’t respond there is little a seller can do except stop selling the product(s) in question, even if you know they are perfectly genuine and legitimate. The best advice is to be persistent and Gwen from Pets Express suggests reading Tabberone’s Trademark and Copyright information, if you believe you’ve been served an incorrect VeRO notice. Tabberone also has 12 VeRO commandments on how to proceed to reverse unjust VeRO strikes.

In the case of the sellers above the situation is complicated by sourcing from a manufacturer whilst a third party in the EU holds the trademark rights. Hopefully the manufacturer will be able to assist the sellers and eBay will review the VeRO strikes issued.

eBay have told us that they do carry out due diligence when an IP rights Owner first registers with VeRO. However the legal situations with regards to IP rights can be unclear especially in situations where different parties claim IP rights. They also told us that they don’t generally enforce third party contracts like exclusivity agreements and that the VeRO program sometimes gets abused and they investigate cases that come to their attention.

40 Responses

  1. There should be clear communication channels within the Vero system that allows potential “victims” of Vero to talk to the rights owner. This comms system should be within eBay.

    Using a Hotmail address is just a joke, for something as important as IPO.

  2. I’m so pleased to see that Tamebay has picked up on this latest VeRo strike!
    I am the mother of one of the affected sellers. The issues and questions
    that need to be addressed here are – a) It seems that anyone can send a
    ‘certificate’ or ‘license’ to eBay, claiming to hold IP rights, and eBay
    simply remove any listings reported by the new ‘rights owner’ without
    checking the authenticity or legality of the paperwork. b) Considering the
    number of sellers directly affected by this situation, was it right to lower
    their Policy Compliance automatically – thereby putting their eBay accounts
    and livliehoods at risk? Didn’t anyone manually look at this and realise
    something was amiss?? c) The alleged ‘rights owner’ claims exclusive rights
    to sell these products on eBay – is it possible for one person to have
    exclusive selling rights on eBay?? I wonder.
    The country we are talking about here has no safety net social security
    structure and very little employment – these sellers rely on the modest
    profit they make on their sales as we in the west rely on our weekly or
    monthly salaries. I know for a fact, unfortunately, that this latest
    development will bring hardship and difficult times.
    These products are not copies, they are not fakes, and the right to sell
    them legally, worldwide, has been taken away overnight, with eBay’s
    assistance.

  3. Sounds as though the manufacturer is the one at fault, you cannot blame the Trademark holder from taking the action they have

  4. Whilst this is a problem between the Manufacturer & the ‘supposed’ rights owner, surely eBay should completely chech the authenticity before pulling the plug on eBay sellers.

    With respect o the sellers involved, & no knowing what the product is, surely it should ring alarm bells in eBay when they receive assumably a complaint via a standard hotmail email address.
    If the product is ainternationally reconized Brand, then more fall them for giving rights worldwide eBay rights to a single ‘indivigal’ in eastern Europe.

    Again, not knowing the product, bu one assumes other people may/will come across redundant stock/new/secondhand items of that make, & then not be able to sell them on eBay seems quite supid.

    We sell branbded HARDWARE (ironmongery) & often use the manufacturers logo etc, of course this is not breaching their copyright, but we do add to all listing:

    COPYRIGHT/TRADEMARKS; Copyright & trade marks are acknowledged and remain the property of the registered holders. No authority is given or implied.

    This, of course does no cover fakes & copies.

    Ebay, need to have proper Legal advice , on hand, at the time of the Vero complain & before they pull listings, otherwise they could be on the receiving end of litigaion.

  5. Re above:

    Apologies for the typos, bloody ‘ T ‘ on laptop keeps sticking. 🙂

  6. eBay must separate or buffer VeRO takedowns from a seller’s policy compliance rating. If eBay needs to immediately pull a listing in response to a takedown notice due to legal requirements or fail-safe procedures then so be it – but no trigger happy VeRO member should have the ability to place an eBay member’s account in jeopardy with single button click.

  7. One thing that has always puzzled me about VERO is that you cannot join the program UNTIL you have something to complain about.

    That has always seems very strange to me.

  8. Hi there,
    I must be very stupid.
    Is this Similar to when Tesco’s tried to sell designer jeans & perfume etc cheaply through the ‘grey market’? Did Tesco’s win?

    ebay must be the largest grey market of all?

    I am right in thinking that
    1 if you bought a branded product from excess inventory then listed it with your own photos and text that VERO should leave you alone?

    2 If I am wrong then where do Brands expect the excess stock to go? If X brand chooses to sell off there stock to a broker then x brand would expect to see the products on ebay and online in general?Am I correct on this?

    Also as you gain contacts you are offered brand X and it is still current stock but offered to you from a safe source. I am thinking of products I see on ebay and often buy that are still being sold by big brand names, Surely if they have been paid for by the buyer and were not stolen or fake of course, then how or why can a Brand or VERO stop you from selling these items Legally? Even though you bought them honestly.

    You can sell them on ebay as long as you use your own text and pics, cant you?

    Sorry I am a bit stressed and appalled by what has happened to these sellers if they are selling authentic stock. It sounds like they were and its even worse if they are in a country where having no money means not feeding your children. How can this happen?

    What am I missing? Is it cross boarder problems or just ebay becoming scared of another court case?
    Ebay it seemed to me were actively advertising the brand it was taken to court by and making money from that. I thought that was what Vero was for. To stop fakes and allow brands there IP.

    Also as brands do not want to be on ebay they will use anything they can to remove the seller’s products i.e. photos and text. But if you use your own photo’s and write your own info you shouldn’t have your items removed should you?

    I understand Brands don’t want to be on ebay because of the prices image or because they vet there suppliers?

    I received a request from ebay UK to sign a petition this week. Since then I have been confused by what I can and cant sell on ebay, of course not fake items. Though can VERO of brand X decide it doesn’t like me, or my prices and stop me from selling on ebay? Or an Authorised supplier remove you? Even if you bought the products through the brands chosen excess seller?

    Is this correct or not? As long as you bought a product from an authorised re seller or a company who sell excess inventory for a brand, then surely the brand will expect to see its product on ebay & online?

    I know a few sellers who sell Several Brands through excess inventory via an authorised excess seller of Brand X but they are all 100% genuine.
    Just to really understand what are the rules?

    Should the seller also expect to have the listings removed and can this be done by authorised suppliers as well as the Brand? If yes why?
    How will anything Branded ever be sold on embay again?
    Advice would be good please
    Sam

  9. I must be very stupid.

    Is this Similar to when Tesco’s tried to sell designer jeans & perfume etc cheaply through the ‘grey market’? Did Tesco’s win?

    ebay must be the largest grey market of all?

    I am right in thinking that
    1 if you bought a branded product from excess inventory then listed it with your own photos and text that VERO should leave you alone?

    2 If I am wrong then where do Brands expect the excess stock to go? If X brand chooses to sell off there stock to a broker then x brand would expect to see the products on ebay and online in general?Am I correct on this?

    Also as you gain contacts you are offered brand X and it is still current stock but offered to you from a safe source. I am thinking of products I see on ebay and often buy that are still being sold by big brand names, Surely if they have been paid for by the buyer and were not stolen or fake of course, then how or why can a Brand or VERO stop you from selling these items Legally? Even though you bought them honestly.

    You can sell them on ebay as long as you use your own text and pics, cant you?

    Sorry I am a bit stressed and appalled by what has happened to these sellers if they are selling authentic stock. It sounds like they were and its even worse if they are in a country where having no money means not feeding your children. How can this happen?

    What am I missing? Is it cross boarder problems or just ebay becoming scared of another court case?
    Ebay it seemed to me were actively advertising the brand it was taken to court by and making money from that. I thought that was what Vero was for. To stop fakes and allow brands there IP.

    Also as brands do not want to be on ebay they will use anything they can to remove the seller’s products i.e. photos and text. But if you use your own photo’s and write your own info you shouldn’t have your items removed should you?

    I understand Brands don’t want to be on ebay because of the prices image or because they vet there suppliers. Though isnt it frankly tough luck if they chose to sell off there stock?

    I received a request from ebay UK to sign a petition this week. Since then I have been confused by what I can and cant sell on ebay, of course not fake items. Though can VERO of brand X decide it doesn’t like me, or my prices and stop me from selling on ebay? Or an Authorised supplier remove you? Even if you bought the products through the brands chosen excess seller?

    Is this correct or not? As long as you bought a product from an authorised re seller or a company who sell excess inventory for a brand, then surely the brand will expect to see its product on ebay & online?

    I know a few sellers who sell Several Brands through excess inventory via an authorised excess seller of Brand X but they are all 100% genuine. Use there own text and info and do not use a logo unless logo means the brand name?
    Just to really understand what are the rules?

    Should the seller also expect to have the listings removed and can this be done by authorised suppliers as well as the Brand? If yes why?
    How will anything Branded ever be sold on embay again?
    Advice would be good
    Thanks in advance
    David

  10. The products were bought from the only shop that produces and sells these original shirts.

    A customer of this shop then somehow obtained an agreement which prohibits anybody but HIM selling these shirt son ebay.

    Sellers are allowed to sell on market stalls, on other websites – JUST NOT EBAY!

    This is where I’m confused – is it legal, can that happen? The culprit is from a large european country and the shop in question is in Thailand, do legal trade agreements exist between these 2 countries? Or anywhere in the world??

    This is a question that ebay has not answered directly, they’ve just sent the same old VERO blurb which we’ve seen before.

  11. It does sound out of order, the VERO team has a job to do, but the lack of clear comms is the biggest problem here. If you can contact Vero team, they need to know there are 2 sides to a story.

    What item are we talking about, can someone post that? I’ve had a case with VERO before and won…

  12. Sam & err David…Vero was put in place to stop fake items and items where the owner of the IPO was being infringed from being sold on eBay.

    However, many brands now use Vero to restrict the sales of any products which they feel have an effect on their brand.

    eBay knows this happens and have said that is not what Vero is in place for. But because eBay cannot find a way of telling these brands to “go away” without opening a whole can of worms, eBay are content allowing the Vero system to be abused, for now.

    This is what the petittion you received is about. Rather than eBay telling the brands to back off, eBay will wrap it up so that it is us telling the brands to back off….very clever don’t you think?

    That way eBay save face but get what they want.

  13. Tracy / Simon – The story is more to highlight the issues that can arise around VeRO than the individual case. This one is particularly tricky as it appears that more than one entity have what appear to be valid claims on the IP. The problem is that’s caused some sellers to pretty much have their businesses closed down overnight and that’s what should concern sellers.

    More than ever it demonstrates that sellers should diversify, have multiple sources of stock from multiple manufacturers and sell in more than one marketplace. Minimising your exposure to prevent one incident closing your business is crucial.

  14. you are joking right….surely its criminal.. Tamebay wake up will you its not all ebay..Imagine for a moment you invest a lot of time & resources to develop a product, and spend a fortune creating a brand, you manufacture your product in the far east (this really is your only option), then you discover the manufacturer sells your branded products to somebody else without your knowledge…This is no difference to selling fakes…I’m sick and tired of these cowboys buying branded products direct from the manufacturer…there is a reason why they get a good price for there products its called branding..if you dont sell under the brand name and sell unbranded you get next to nothing for your product…really its all so one sided..ebay is a tiny part of business and mostly for the big brands its a nightmare because most sellers are just unprofessional and this case proofs it. Its really bad if vero gets it wrong but in this case they did not get it wrong somebody buys branded goods outside the EU…there problem…please and the nonsense about feeding the family sure its bad but they went for high mark up item and really you as ebay news channel should not support this practice…this really tells you why big brands want to stop ebay….WTB 25 pairs a & f jeans anyone??….
    Why dont you cover the real big issues…one of the biggest dvd seller on ebay has gone bust with over 100k feedback I mean jesus that is really big news..would it not be interesting to find out what went wrong..could it have something to do with the free p&p they force on sellers…I mean come on investigative journalism (do a glacier bay interview that was intersting and it would be real news) or how about the new chinese seller with 5k listing product price .99p shipping 29.99 reg as a private sellers or how about argos not complying with the 14 day return policy I think you need to be proactive ebay is reading this and articles like these in my opinion are just naive…..there fault buying branded goods direct and only having only one channel to sell one…Sorry but i just need to say my bit… I do really like the site but there is better news out there I think…. You have a real chance to head on reall issues.. other then that I love the site…

  15. Thanks for your comments – as always feedback is always appreciated. Also if you (or anyone else) think that there are issues which need addressing you’re very welcome to write a guest post on the topic – just let us know what you’d like to write about

  16. J B you are 100% wrong, this is not a well known brand – it is a small but growing brand created, produced and sold solely in Thailand for a few years now, please read through all of the above before you blow off about unprofessional sellers etc.

  17. it’s this sentence that has got me riled

    ‘ebay is a tiny part of business and mostly for the big brands its a nightmare because most sellers are just unprofessional and this case proofs it’

    This case is worth highlighting just the same as any other unjustified case is worth highlighting.

    I am directly affected by this case and I have been buying directly from the creator, producer & original IP rights holder of the product in question.

    The IP rights that have been taken away are for sale of the product ON EBAY ONLY

    This is not an article about well-known jeans/trainers/hoodies/shorts or whatever, it is about a genuine problem which needs to be better thought out by ebay before they close accounts of unwitting & honest sellers.

  18. As mentioned by Chris dawson, this case is apparently being taken to court as we speak so I am unable to state which product is being discussed, as soon as legal proceedings finish I will tell all.

  19. sorry i did not know that you purchased from the creator, producer & original IP rights holder the article gave the impression that you purchased from the manufacturer (the back door): Although the sellers are sourcing their goods from the manufacturer who is based in the Far East,

    I think in this case the company should have simply stopped selling to you and gave you the oportunity to sell your existing stock… sorry again for the missunderstanding..good luck

  20. it’s ok j b.

    Us sellers WERE sourcing the products from the IP owner in S.E Asia

    It is still uncertain who is in the wrong here, the original creator/shop or the new (ebay) rights holder, this will hopefully be decided in due course.

  21. To Post #15, I’m interested to hear about the 100k dvd seller that went bust!

    Sorry to be off topic: Also, yes there are many sellers pretending to be private and avoiding fees and then close down and open up again, one such seller is maxtoptech
    named & shamed….

    Previously this seller had been NARU under another ID…

  22. Sue, u might be right if its an individual but surely with such a massive fb it must be quiet a large company….its up to them if they wish to comment. I belive you have the opportunity to report actual news not reclye ebay announcment. This is a massive dvd seller could it be that forcing free p&p makes them more expensive then hmv or amazon due to paypal & ebay fees made them stop selling dvds on ebay. Could it be that ebay is wrong promoting larger corporations rather then small companies / individuals? If it would be the high street it would be massive news and surely its only a sign of worse to come…why dont you check:

    https://www.sellerdome.com

    I will keep my opinions to myself in the future but you actually have the power to change the way ebay does business and treats sellers…still love the site and carry on just though i add my 2p

  23. #24 that particular seller gave free p&p long before ebay made it compulsory so I am guessing that probably is not the cause.

    But it is easy to blame ebay first and the seller second.

  24. Why buy a DVD when you can download it for free? I would imagine that’s more likely a reason for this guy going bust than eBay forcing free shipping on people.

  25. Q12, Im sorry, the comment seem to show and i was so, so worried that ebay track this i switched email and used my Son’s Name.

    Sorry so we take all risks (accetable being self employed) though now ebay are insane they truly wat there cake and eat it.

    I can onlt think i have option to leave ebay, i often you all say anyone with only 1 selling source are mad.
    Thats me and daul personaly too
    so sorry for name thing i am becoming paroind
    thanks for replying BTW you saying ebay were being a useless as ever re petition?
    AGAIN IM SORRY FOR ANY CONFUSION RE NAME AND THANKS SO MUCH FOR REPLYING.

    To confirm can people who buy from authrised sell off channels etc sell on ebay with ebay, sorry vero saying stop?
    best wishes
    sam david

  26. As I have said @4 above….this is very much a case between the manufacturer & the ‘new’ ebay rights seller.

    Someone, up high in the manufacturers, must know all & where their buyers sell. They MUST have known what they were signing & who they would effect.
    It is they, the manufactuers, who should be in touch, sorting it out with ebay Vero. All the shouting by the previous disgruntled sellers (sorry guys, no badness intended) will get no one, anywhere.

    Regretfully also, the up & coming legal action, will again unfortunately drag on forever (as these things do). You would be surprized how many appeals go on & on & on…….

    Maybe the effected sellers, should band together & sue the Manufacturer for the profits they are loosing….&, I don’t often stand up for ebay, but afer the recent cases, they are treadfing carefully.

    As for the recent petition, sent around by ebay……….Sorry ebay, it’s in the delete folder, If ebay want to encourage the big boys, that’s fine, but you cannot have it both ways. It is upto ebay (as the selling platform) to make certain what can & what cannot be sold on their site.
    If ebay expect the small seller, to sell on the site, then they should deal with the big boys on our behalf, but of course they cannot, can they, as they are encourging he big boys to come & play on the site (with links, etc),
    but if you sell one of their branded products, they slap a vero notice on you………..

    Recession: this is probaly the reason DVD/CD sellers are going up the wall….after all, these are the things that people impulse buy…Now people are looking in their pockets & the extra tenner is not there.
    Mind you, Downloads, Amazon & the demise of woolworhs (middle man operation) has cut the prices & thus, should cu the prices in shops.

    Having been in furniture design in the past, it is really horrible, when a competetor copies your iems (a least some do make ‘differences’). If a company has spent 100,000ssss££££££ on developmen, them it’s fair that they have sole rights to he item (at least for the copyrigh period).

  27. Gerry007

    My complaint is that I’ve seen this document and despite the new ‘rights holder’ saying it is a legal document, I can’t help feel that it is not, it is simply a knock-up of a document, it has a silly red wax seal picture on it and it claims ‘with this exclusive distribution license for ebay worldwide you get the right to sell XXXX(product name) products. The licensee has the right to advertise, present & sell XXXX with own name & bill.
    The distribution license is valid for 5 years and has to be renewed afterwards’

    Now, to me, that is pathetic, eBay have seen this document and removed listings, closed accounts & ruined peoples livelihoods in the process.

    There are no excuses for what ebay has done, and possibly none for the manufacturer too.

    I have given up fighting this and put it down to losing another source of income.

  28. You people all complaining about that and state “I have the right to sell that products”…did ever come into your mind that you people destroyed the marketprice from that products by far to much?? If i see that great shirts on ebay for 2,99 Dollar “buy it now” + 10 dollar shipping from people in thailand i could vomit.. for real…you people dont pay taxes and the foreigner living here dont even have a workpermit but work here illegal and state a load of BS like above?`You must kidding… You destroyed the marketprice so far that really honest sellers with a company who need to pay taxes cant earn anymore one cent if they sell that shirts on ebay! It was time to change that and i support absolutely that this stops now! If it would go on and on the brand would be completely worthless very soon! The price battles you did there were just insane and if you dont see that you are blind!…so dont cry, it was your own failure!

  29. Then you are maybe just not bright enough to undertand what i mean…i am not a native english speaker but i think my message is easy to understand…

    thats exactly the problem…you people dont care if the price gets dumped again and again, and thats why you will not be able to sell that brand anymore.
    You People destroyed the marketprice for that products, and people who import the articles into their countrys are not able to sell them anymore for a reasonable price because they need to pay taxes, import duty and so on…you are acting selfish and just really stupid if you sell that shirts for 12-16 Dollars include shipping! That sucks and it was time that something happen against it to protect the brand and the sellers from other countrys from more demage! Go to school and learn something about economy and marketing if you dont understand that…

    Try to buy products from another big clothing brand in the US, for example Ed H. and then try to sell them abroad on ebay…you will not be able to do that because they have in every country importers with a license to distribute them there exclusively…they will remove your listings as well because the articles are not licensed to be sold there..never heard about that?? Thats how it works and its necessary to do it that way to protect the sellers in the specific countrys from people like you who dump the price and dont care about other peoples businesses …a good organized distribution can only work that way and will not work if everybody can buy that articles for the same cheap wholesale price and sell them everywhere for a dumping price …

  30. #33 is talking a load of rubbish, competition is natural in a marketplace and sellers in that marketplace don’t deserve to be suspended because some crafty person has taken rights away from other sellers!

    This new ‘rights holder’ is going to dominate the market with their own prices – is that healthy??

    I suspect #33 was written by the person who took this disgraceful action in the first place, or possibly the shop?…

  31. another thing #33, this has got nothing to do with the price some sellers were selling their shirts for, some of us were selling for fair prices with fair P&P – this is all about unfair removal of listings and account suspension because a flimsy document was submitted to ebay!

  32. givemeabreak

    Again you’re talking rubbish, these shirts were selling for $18 and that is a fair price for a shirt which was originally bough for $4 in the shop in question.

    Prices were not ridiculous – they were fair for a decent product and the profit on the shirts was at least $8 after ebay & paypal fees – that is not pricing people out of selling, wake up and stop telling people off like they/we were doing something wrong…

  33. @34. Me neither, but I do sort of agree with the general point I think 33 is making.

  34. “eBay have told us that they do carry out due diligence when an IP rights Owner first registers with VeRO.”

    This statement by eBay is not true. eBay attempted to verify rights owners in 2000 but soon stopped. eBay is a collective of legal and moral cowards when it comes to VeRO. A simple statement that one owns the rights claimed is all that is required.

    eBay can require the VeRO member respond within a certain time period but does not. eBay can require that the VeRO member give exact reasons for the takedowns but eBay does not. eBay could have an appeals process whereby the seller could argue their case to eBay and make the VeRO member more accountable but ebay does not.

    The statement that eBay does not “generally enforce third party contracts like exclusivity agreements” is another lie by eBay. eBay doesn’t care who orders the takedown as long as eBay is legally protected by paperwork where the VeRO member states they own the rights. This sort of abuse happens every day and rarely does eBay get involved. eBay’s automated response system allows eBay to avoid getting involved.

    eBay has gotten so big that eBay doesn’t know what it is doing half the time and the other half of the time it doesn’t care.

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