eBay’s Bid to Crack Down on Counterfeits Could Impact IP Protection

There are a lot of counterfeit products on digital marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. The most common category of “knockoff” products? Apparel. The second most common category? Footwear.

Amazon does not require third-party sellers to verify the authenticity of sneakers. Largely because of the failure to verify authenticity, both Birkenstock (in 2016) and Nike (in 2019) have stopped offering their products on the marketplace giant.

Perhaps looking to avoid a similar fate, eBay recently announced that any collectible sneakers that cost over $100 will have to be independently verified to confirm that they are authentic before they can be sold on their platform. This comes on the heels of a similar program implemented in September to authenticate watches that cost over $2,000.

How eBay’s Authentication Program Will Work

Sellers may continue to list higher-priced collectible sneakers on the site as they have always done. The difference is that now the seller will have to send any orders to an “independent third-party authentication facility for a comprehensive, multi-point physical inspection” before they can ship to the buyer. eBay will then send verified sneakers to buyers using expedited shipping.

So eBay is verifying sneakers’ authenticity? Sort of. The verification facility is being run by Sneaker Con, perhaps best known for holding big conventions for sneakerheads.

eBay expects that their verification process will include all $100+ sneaker sales by 2021.

What If Your Business Is Experiencing Counterfeiting on eBay?

While this issue has not been directly addressed by eBay, the new initiative may make it possible for businesses dealing with counterfeiting in other product categories to negotiate their own authentication policy to better protect IP. 

How will this work? Only time will tell. But it is yet another reason why it may prove valuable to work with a knowledgeable intellectual property lawyer at Marks Gray.