by Marc Butterwood
a very big deal this e-bay business. The sole proprietor of the
world’s classifieds ads, or as good as, is something like the 59th
biggest economy in the world. It's bigger than one of them oil
producing countries. And if its fake goods you’re after, you’d
think all the cowboys would be at home in Yahoo! auctions but they
all seem to have settled down well at e-bay.
all its protection programmes, “insurance” via its recommended
payment method Paypal, and generally idle chat e-bay doesn't really
do much about fakes being sold on its site. It sees itself as a
market place/space, and as it provides the space it’s not really
responsible for what’s sold there. But e-bay do then still take
money from its fakes. And they’re everywhere. Of the brands I
search for, I find fake adidas trainers, fake Stone Island jackets,
fake “google” jackets from CP Company, fake Armani and Paul
Smith jeans and fake DVD’s.
course we’d be very stupid to say there were a lot of fakes on
e-bay or other auction sites without a pop survey, so this
“writer” opted to do a little bit of investigative journalism
for once, rather than sit on his fat arse ranting about police and
sample was this – the brands of Sportswear Company SPA –
, Stone Island Denims, and separately we will also look at CP
Company. I’ve flogged articles to death going on about these
brands, so I apologise for bringing them up again. But its easier to
tell a fake CP Company piece from fake adidas trainers – apart
from originating in Hong Kong and having an iffy price, most of the
adidas fakes are high grade and difficult to tell from the real
back to the sample. This included 2248 SI or SI Denims pieces over a
ten day period in February, available to the
via an auction web site. Of these, we found as follows.
Items – 309
Items - 87
Items – 1852
that in this sample, we found that over 82% of all
and Stone Island Denims products available on through that search at
that time were fake. If
we take that 10 day period as representative of the year, we times
the amount by 36.5 to see that 67,598 fake items are sold from these
manufacturers via this site each year. We worked out the average of
the fake product sold, from hats to coats, in one unit as
representing £41 based on a sample of ten items.
we were to take 5% as the cut that this auction site would use,
which is fairly standard, this site would make £138,575 per year if
all the items sold. Even if they didn’t, the charge for simply
putting the fakes up for sale would alone be £54,078. At worst then
they would get £192,653 for these fake sales. Unless you’re using
a recommended payment system via credit card, which would itself
take £110,860 for processing this, although how much of that is
profit we don’t know. Bottom line is this site could be making
from this sample £385,306 from SI and SI Denims fake sales. Add
European fakes which there are less of, and the CP Company branded
fakes and you’re looking at potentially well over half a million
pounds realistically being made from the sale of the fake
merchandise of three brand names. World wide, per year. Of course
they would have to pay VAT or tax on that where appropriate. But
that’s just some relatively small brands.
not is all lost. E-bay is one of those auction sites which is
charged by many to be selling fake goods, but couldn’t possibly
have been used in our sample. The top end jewellery brand and store
Tiffany’s found that when it bought a load of Tiffany’s
jewellery via e-bay, all of its samples were fake. It estimated that
roughly 80 – 90% of Tiffany goods on e-bay being sold were fake.
So Tiffany’s decided to sue – few people had the financial clout
to take on e-bay in the courts but Tiffany could afford this.
this could go one of two ways. E-bay would have won, or if seen
through Tiffany could have got the verdict that e-bay was
responsible for the goods sold on its site. Nobody anticipated way
three – it was feasible that e-bay would approach Tiffany’s out
of court, offer them a large amount of compensation for fakes sold,
and the claim goes away. This would be good business as if e-bay
were ordered to pay millions on compensation anyway and million
court costs, in the
this would be considered a landmark verdict. It would have meant
everyone who owned a brand and noticed fakes being sold through
e-bay would have sued and won. It could have been the end of e-bay
since the suit was filed, 2005 has passed without much word about
proceedings at all. Which would suggest that the compensation action
had been done, and we the ringside punter got no satisfaction and no
meaty fight. And we at Swine actually went to the effort of
contacting Tiffany’s who refused to comment on this speculation.
stop the press! On the 6th if February, James Swire of
Arnold and Porter, the law firm representing Tiffany’s, announced
that the case was going ahead, would hit court this year, and e-bay
was preparing its defence. We’ll get some action this year then.
10% was wiped off the value of e-bay stock as soon as Jamesy opened
his mouth – a few very expensive words.
we might get e-bay properly policed, or we might we even see it
destroyed? Who knows? But it has plenty of financial clout, and few
experts give Tiffany much chance of a ruling. In the meantime,
I’ll have one of them goggle jackets at £50 buy it now please.