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EBay Aims to Change Europe’s Competition Rules

EBay sent all its users in Europe a petition urging the European Commission to amend its competition laws.

PARIS — In a new bid to lift what it sees as unfair barriers to online trading, eBay on Thursday sent all its users in Europe a petition urging the European Commission to amend its competition laws.

This story first appeared in the July 10, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

EBay hopes the support of its vast customer base will help persuade the commission as it considers whether to change legislation governing online retailing when regulations expire at the end of 2009.

“We are asking all our eBay customers in Europe to sign our online petition against online trade barriers,” a spokeswoman said. “This, in turn, asks European decision-makers to amend an European Union competition law in order to make it harder for certain brands and manufacturers to block the sale of products on eBay and other market places.”

Existing regulations allow for selective distribution — the right that brands have to choose where and how their products are sold. In its e-mail to customers, eBay argued some brands unfairly prevent the sale of their products by contending that the online world is fertile ground for counterfeit goods. EBay said only 0.15 percent of posts on its site have been detected or signaled as presenting a counterfeit risk.

“The real objective of these brand owners is to prevent the sale of all their products on our site, whatever it is; whether new, secondhand, authentic or counterfeit,” eBay told its users, adding it’s not only a question of luxury products, but everything from toys to electronic equipment, lawnmowers and prams.

Before presenting its proposals, the commission will launch a public survey toward the end of July.