L''Oreal to take legal action against eBay over sale of fakes

The world''s largest cosmetics group, L''Oreal, said on Monday 10 September that it had has launched legal action against eBay in five European countries for allegedly allowing the sale of counterfeit cosmetics and perfumes through its website. The company alleged that the online auctioneer does not do enough to combat the sale of counterfeit products.

This comes after similar action taken against eBay by the world''s largest luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and its parent company Dior, as well as US jeweller Tiffany''s.

A L''Oreal representative said legal proceedings have been launched against eBay in France, Germany, Britain, Belgium and Spain. It estimated the damage done to its business from counterfeit goods sold via eBay at "several million euros". The cosmetic giant''s perfume business includes upmarket perfume brands Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Cacharel and Lancome.

The world''s largest online auction site eBay says it clamps down on all cases of counterfeiting notified to it by the firms concerned. A representative of eBay subsidiary eBay France said the companies had been in talks since May regarding the sale of counterfeit L''Oreal products, as well as the reselling of L''Oreal products through eBay''s website.

"eBay is not a victim. It gets a cut from each transaction and advertisement, real or fake," L''Oreal''s head of anti-counterfeiting, Xavier Herfroy told the media. However, he declined to say whether L''Oreal was seeking damages.

French industry, with the support of the government, is very active in fighting counterfeiting, which it estimates costs French firms €6 billion ($8.34 billion) in lost earnings each year.

Customs officers near France''s border with Italy had stopped two trucks with 12,757 fake handbags and small leather goods, with an estimated market value of €12 million ($16.68 million). A total of €224 ($311 million) million worth of fakes have been caught in the first half of 2007.