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Tiffany Fights Ruling in eBay Case

In a legal fight with eBay, Tiffany & Co. presented written arguments to an appeals court asking for the reversal of a ruling earlier this year.

Tiffany & Co. has presented written arguments to an appeals court asking for the reversal of the landmark ruling against the jewelry retailer in a legal fight with eBay Inc. earlier this year.

This story first appeared in the October 27, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In a brief filed Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan, lawyers for Tiffany argued that the U.S. District Court’s July 15 ruling frustrated fundamental policies of trademark law.

Among other arguments, Tiffany’s counsel wrote that the lower court’s judgment mischaracterized the “heart of the dispute,” when it balanced eBay’s anticounterfeiting policies with Tiffany’s work protecting its own mark.

In the earlier decision, Judge Richard Sullivan ruled that the burden of policing a trademark falls primarily on the mark holder. Sullivan found that eBay’s efforts to remove auctions that brand owners spotted as containing counterfeit items satisfied the online auction house’s responsibilities.

The Second Circuit is the latest battleground for a suit, first brought in 2004, that has captured the attention of the luxury goods and e-commerce worlds. Accordingly, Tiffany was not alone in making its arguments. Both the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition filed amicus, or friend of the court, briefs in support of the jeweler. Such briefs allow parties that have not been named in a lawsuit, but that have an interest in the case, to appeal to the court.

EBay is scheduled to file its own brief in response next month. The panel of three judges trying the appeal most likely will hear oral arguments from the opposing parties after it has received all written material. It then typically takes several months for the court to enter a judgment.