Watching for Copycats and Counterfeiters with VeRO

VeRO helps protect your intellectual property rights

The VeRO program protects copyright holders and others against infringement. Photo: Norebbo / Dreamstime.com

Because eBay is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, it can be a difficult place to police. The fact that eBay sellers ship their own products and create their own item listings compounds this problem. Though for the most part eBay auction listings are on the level, if you are an eBay seller or even a non-eBay seller, you may someday be upset (or have already been upset) to find that someone is:

 

  • Selling a unauthorized copies or reproductions of your own products, creations, or work
     
  • Selling unauthorized copies or reproductions of products that you also sell, but because yours are genuine and theirs are not, they can undercut you by a significant margin
     
  • Selling legitimate products but is using your business name, logo, or other identifying marks in their listings, implying that you endorse their products or are affiliated with them when this is not the case
     
  • Posting item listings in which they have copied text or photos that you created for your own auction listings, without first asking your permission

All of these acts are against eBay rules and if eBay finds out about them and can verify that an offense has indeed taken place, measures will be taken to have the offending listings removed and the seller(s) in question warned or even suspended.

eBay’s program for dealing with rights violations of these kinds is called the Verified Rights Online (VeRO) program.

VeRO has been around for many years now, but many eBay sellers aren’t aware of it and/or don’t realize that eBay will take action in these kinds of cases.

Reporting Infringement/Violations

In order to report infringement or violations having to do with products being sold, you will need to print and complete an affidavit form stating that you are an owner or creator whose rights have been infringed upon.

You can then either fax or mail the form to the address on the form, which can be downloaded at the Reporting an Infringement page.

To report infringement or violations in listing text or pictures (i.e. that someone has taken your parts of your listing without your permission), visit the Item Description and Picture Theft page, where you’ll find a link at which you can report the violation in question.

Participating in the VeRO Program

If you are a creator or product owner, you can ensure that you are on record from the beginning as the owner of the product(s) or trademark(s) in question by participating in the VeRO program. To do so, create an About Me page giving information about your company and products and stating that they are your intellectual property and that you pursue violators. Some examples of VeRO-friendly About Me pages can be found in eBay’s list of VeRO participant About Me pages.

After creating your About Me page, contact eBay’s VeRO staff at vero@ebay.com and notify them that you’d like to participate in the VeRO program and have created an About Me page asserting your rights and ownership over your intellectual property and trademarks.

Monitoring for Offenses

If you’re worried about ongoing violations and would like to monitor eBay listings for unauthorized use or sale of your product(s) or trademark(s), you can do it in three different ways:

 

  1. Periodically visit eBay and search for potential violations manually.
     
  2. Save and automatically run a set of such searches to continually monitor eBay’s listings for infringement.
     
  3. Contact a professional monitoring agency who will help to police eBay for infringement violations on your behalf.

If You’re Not an eBay Seller

Even if you’re not an eBay seller, you can still participate in the VeRO program by following the steps listed above. Simply join eBay, create your VeRO About Me page, and contact vero@eBay.com to join the program. Then, either monitor eBay yourself or have one of the agencies above monitor eBay for you to report violations.

If You’re Wondering About Your Own Listings

If you’re an eBay seller and you’re wondering whether or not your own auction listings may be infringing on other sellers’ rights or in violation of eBay policy with regard to intellectual property rights, take the eBay VeRO Policy Tutorial to find out.

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