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  • Trademarked and Counterfeit Items

    What is a trademark?

    A trademark is a name or logo used by a company to identify its goods or services. For example, Trading Company, Inc. � is the name of our company, but it is also a trademark used on our site and various products. Coca Cola� is a trademark used in the sale of soft drinks. Many trademarks are registered, but a trademark need not be registered for an owner to protect it. Trademark laws are designed to protect consumers from confusing one company's goods or services with those of another.

    How do you know if you're violating trademark laws when you're selling or buying an item?

    To find out, look at the guidelines listed below. This list will help you determine if your item is infringing (violating trademark law) or prohibited (not allowed on not allowing these items on the site protects you from liability and helps make a safe place for trading. Selling or buying any of these items could put you at risk for civil or criminal liability. Your auction could be ended early and you may be suspended from

    General Guideline:

    If the product you are selling bears the name or logo of a company, but it wasn't made or endorsed by that company, it probably is an infringement to sell it.

    Here are some examples of potentially infringing items:

    � A purse that has the Chanel� name on it, but which was not made by Chanel;

    � Sunglasses bearing the Oakley� name, but which are a style never made by Oakley;

    � A homemade product that incorporates in its name another company's trademarked name (e.g., Beanie� Box) in such a way to suggest that the company made or endorsed the product;

    � An internet domain name that contains in it the trademarked name of another company (e.g.,;

    � An auction listing that uses the logo of a company in such a way that it looks like the auction item came from that company, when it did not;

    � A fake autograph passed off as the real thing.

    � Replacement parts for an Epson� printer which use Epson's parts number and name, but were not made by Epson.

    Comparisons to other brands may be permissible under some circumstances, but not if the auction listing as a whole is likely to lead to confusion over who made the goods. Saying that an item is "Chanel-like" or "Movado-style" (or making similar comparisons) when it was not made by one of those companies would likely be impermissible.

    A seller may not engage in the practice of listing the same or similar trademarked (branded) items on, and repeatedly disclaiming knowledge of or responsibility for the authenticity or legality of those items. Sellers routinely selling the same types of items should take steps to satisfy themselves that the items are authentic before listing them on Sellers are responsible for the items they sell and disclaimers (e.g., "I cannot guarantee the authenticity of this item, so please bid accordingly") usually have no legal effect and do not protect the seller from potential liability.

    For more information about trademarks:

    U.S. Trademark Office

    Findlaw - general law

    International Trademark Association - FAQs on Trademarks

    Avoiding Trademark, Patent and Copyright Problems (Franklin Pierce Law Center)

    FACE (Friends of Copyright Education)

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