NEW YORK — Tiffany & Co. said Wednesday that “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in counterfeit goods bearing Tiffany and other brand labels were seized in two law enforcement raids in the United Kingdom last month.
A Tiffany regional manager of security linked the confiscated items to eBay auction sites, according to a company statement.
Goods seized in the raids included silver rings, necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry, as well as packaging material that mimicked Tiffany’s.
“Those who traffic in phony merchandise cheat consumers and debase the integrity of brands that have taken many decades to establish,’’ Dave McGowan, Tiffany vice president of security worldwide, said in the statement. “The problem has been aggravated by Internet auction sites like eBay that enable criminals to operate counterfeit distribution rings anonymously.”
Specific dollar amounts for the goods seized are not yet available, said a Tiffany spokeswoman, who praised U.K. law enforcement agencies.
“We would happily work with Tiffany if they believe there is any link to something happening on eBay, as we have in past,” Hani Durzy, a spokesman for eBay, said in an interview.
He noted that Tiffany used to participate in eBay’s Verified Rights Owner, or VeRO, Program, which was set up to verify legitimate vendors, but it is no longer a part of the program.
“The true goal for Tiffany is pretty clearly not to take the steps that they have been willing to in the past because they’ve stopped doing that, but rather to protect their very closed distribution channels,” Durzy said.
In an action unrelated to the raids in the U.K., Tiffany in June 2004 filed a lawsuit against eBay in U.S. District Court in Manhattan charging direct and contributory counterfeiting and trademark infringement over alleged fake goods it said were sold online. The case is pending, but is expected to be heard later this year.