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Spyderco Suing eBay Over Counterfeits

Spyderco sues ebay

Spyderco has filed a lawsuit against eBay, one of the largest eCommerce retailers in the world. The suit centers around the sale of fake Spyderco knives on eBay.com, and alleges five offenses including trademark infringement.

According to the complaint, filed in the US District Court of Colorado last week, Spyderco has tried to help eBay address the problem of counterfeit knives on the website since early 2009. “Spyderco has sent eBay more than 500 Notices of Claimed Infringement (“NOCI”) by at least 300 individual www.ebay.com registered sellers identifying thousands of Fake Spyderco Products.”

Spyderco contends that eBay ignored the claims and isn’t taking “the reasonable means” to halt services to sellers of counterfeit Spyderco knives. “eBay continues to allow www.ebay.com to be used by thousands of Unauthorized Sellers to advertise Fake Products that display unauthorized Spyderco trademarks that infringe on Spyderco’s Marks.”

The lawsuit alleges that eBay knowingly ignored the complaints of intellectual property infringement. “eBay cannot continue to enjoy the enormous profits derived from the proliferation of Fake Products sold on the eBay website if the unauthorized sellers are excluded from selling their counterfeit goods.” Spyderco says the ongoing presence of counterfeit Spyderco products in eBay listings causes confusion for consumers and damages Spyderco’s reputation.

The Counterfeit Report, an eCommerce watchdog founded by a former LAPD Officer, say major online retailers often do little to protect consumers. “Despite website policy, and repeated trademark infringement notifications, the sellers and items often remain,” they report. “Alarmingly, after being notified by manufacturers, Amazon and eBay do not tell deceived buyers that they may have received a counterfeit item, even if it’s dangerous or potentially deadly, like OTC drugs, auto suspension parts or exploding Apple USB chargers.”

Spyderco seeks reparations including $2,000,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods or services sold, $500 per each deceptive trade practice committed by eBay, and punitive damages. The eBay lawsuit follows on the heels of the dismissal of Spyderco’s suit against Kittery Trading Post. Filed in December of last year, the complaint was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and Spyderco has yet to take further action on the matter.



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I think so, yes. Everyone starts to care when the money is being taken from their own pockets. Covering their own asses might actually help the consumer in this case!

   I recently started using eBay again after a long absence-Previously bought a few woodworking planes then bought a clunker plane...didn't use eBay again until now about 10 years later.  Buying newer knives such as out of business Canal Street Cutlery is fairly safe.

    Should eBay work it saves me a few longer trips to shows-two days of travel and costs from two nights of overpriced hotels-that is a lot of overhead. 

  The problem with buying on line is that you may not find quality knives such as at shows.  Recently I got a high priced antique knife and luckily it looks good. Every collector of anything worries about fakes with good reason.

 I will buy cheaper stuff from ebay like disposable electronics, but when it comes to knives, I lean more to the reputable online dealers, and make darn sure I use PayPal Goods and Services. Plus, with the amount of Facebook Groups out there, getting referrals to solid sellers is getting easier, Just have to be careful, do your research and due diligence. 

Sage advice !!

Steve Scheuerman (Manx) said:

... , Just have to be careful, do your research and due diligence. 

You know I have always had dealers.  If you find some good ones, you will always get a good deal and they begin to know your collection.  If they find something your looking for..your dealer may even call you.

I can personally recommend every dealer that is here as a sponsor.  Looking through the site you will find that many members swear by them also.  They obviously are my dealers of choice, most of them folks I knew and bought from before I bought iKC.

Hey, y'all!  This is really interesting.  Thank you, Jan, for posting this!

For anyone who wants to actually read Spyderco's complaint, this was the only link I was able to find it at (without registering or paying any fees):  https://thecounterfeitreport.com/uploads/media/pr_2017-07-27_compla...

I've been into intellectual property for decades, kind of a casual interest I have yet to get paid for.  I've definitely been into the intersection of intellectual property & knives, especially with all the "prior art" & "obviousness" that leads to knives not really being patent-oriented or even patentable...

Anyway, I'm reading through Spyderco's complaint right now, & will likely post journalistic commentary as I read further.  Like I said, I am really glad Jan posted this...  :)

My first thought is that while the court Spyderco filed in is appropriate, eBay will likely remove to another jurisdiction, one that's more friendly to eBay.  Of course eBay will probably push for dismissal via summary judgment, maybe the first thing they do.  And if there are any similar cases in similar jurisdictions siding with eBay, they'll likely use those to push for dismissal.

Ebay will no doubt compare themselves to a flea market where they've taken adequate precautions & constructed adequate controls to ensure safety & combat fraud, & they'll sight the number of transactions that occur every day (or every year) & the number of sellers on eBay & point out how small Spyderco's numbers are in comparison to those numbers & push back by saying that, though any number of counterfeits is an unfortunate number, they're actually doing very well in combating it (& hey, it's really hard to prove a negative, so proving how many counterfeits eBay has stopped is pretty much impossible). 

I'm going to look into whatever cases I can find involving eBay on similar trademark infringement claims, now I'm just really curious...

Though my first thought is that eBay is a much, much bigger company than Spyderco, & if Spyderco was to win on these claims, it could cost eBay A LOT of money in combating future trademark infringements -- not to mention the costs of defending against a many claims that could come pouring in from other companies...  An adverse ruling could be really, really expensive for eBay...

If you do a search for "eBay Counterfeits Lawsuits" there is a history of lawsuits with settlements for many types of items-some suits won and others lost. Making a profit in retail is tough but fraud (representing a nonconforming product with the intent to deceive) makes it even worse. The other large auction site Alibaba has a reputation which seems to keep many USA buyers away.
Seems that there are international laws to be written and enforced by multiple governments-perhaps we are ready for that.

Thanks DLKG!  I am curious where it goes also.  It appears Spyderco set this up very well with documenting the notice to sellers and Ebay of the items and then Ebay doing nothing to stop,prevent or even slow down the same offenders

Here's something eBay will also use in its defense:  the VeRO ("Verified Rights Owner") program, something eBay implemented to, in eBay's words, "Protect ... IP rights and ensure compliance for selling."  There are a few dozen companies that have included statements for consumers regarding fraudulent or counterfeit items; notably, Spyderco is not among them.  Spyderco shouldn't be required to have posted a statement to show its participation in the VeRO program, but I would wonder, if this was such a big deal to them, why they wouldn't have a statement to consumers or be participant in this program on eBay.


My understanding is that eBay also has a hands-off approach to such claims, & they put the person/entity claiming infringement in touch with the seller about whom the complaint is made.  Of course, when it comes to counterfeit Spyderco knives, I'd guess that the lion's share of these sellers are in China.  Pretty unlikely any legal claim against these Chinese companies would go anywhere, so Spyderco wants eBay to suspend or ban these sellers.  Ebay's likely going to come back with a list of sellers they have suspended or banned following the complaints they received from Spyderco, & also from other eBay users who reported counterfeit Spyderco knives (given that this is eBay's business, no doubt they have many such account suspensions & deletions recorded & will provide them as part of the litigation document discovery process).

All VERY good points.  This will not be Ebays first rodeo with this type of litigation.  We will keep following any progress we can with this.  I have a few contacts at Spyderco also so maybe we can get an inside look at this after it is not longer an active case

When the counterfeits and the claims start cutting into eBay's profits they'll do something about it until then it is somebody else's problem.

I completely agree with Tobias.

'tis all driven by the almighty $.

!!! ..sad ..but.. true.. !!!

Tobias Gibson said:

When the counterfeits and the claims start cutting into eBay's profits they'll do something about it until then it is somebody else's problem.

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