To protect the rights of owners of intellectual property, eBay has created a program called the “Verified Rights Owner” program (VeRO). If you sell products on eBay and you are a brand owner with an active registered trademark issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), you may be eligible to enroll. By enrolling in eBay’s VeRO program, brand owners will have access to a suite of tools to prevent infringement and counterfeits of their products being sold.
Trademark infringement and product counterfeiting on online retail platforms like eBay has significantly increased over the last decade and has become a big problem for many online sellers and brand owners. For example, merchandise will be offered and sold on the eBay platform that is alleged to be from a certain brand or manufacturer, but it is not. It is unlawful to infringe upon the intellectual property of others. Owners of trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property are constantly monitoring eBay product listings to identify and penalize these bad actors. The eBay VeRO program provides brand owner’s with certain tools they can leverage to remove fraudulent listings from the eBay platform.
eBay VeRO Program Features & Benefits
As part of Ebay’s VeRO program, eBay has established a comprehensive set of rules for their sellers with respect to intellectual property rights. For example, eBay expressly prohibits sellers from infringing copyrights and trademarks and eBay will terminate seller listings and seller accounts for multiple violations of the rules. Only intellectual property rights owners (or brand owners with an active registered federal trademark) can report eBay listings that infringe on their copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights.
Membership in the eBay VeRO program is straightforward. Intellectual property owners who believe that a product listing violates their trademarks or copyrights may complete an electronic Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI). To complete the NOCI, a brand owner provides basic information about their registered trademarks and other information with respect to the infringing or counterfeit eBay listing. Brand owners must also certify under penalty of perjury that they are, in fact, the owner of the trademark registrations and that they have good faith belief that the listing is infringing on their intellectual property. Examples of violations that can be reported include:
Product listings or other items that bear a brand owner’s standard character word mark, design mark, or word plus design mark registered with the USPTO but were not authorized by the brand owner;
Unauthorized copies of audio, video, or other media;
Unauthorized use of a brand owner’s images or text in a product listing;
Counterfeit or replica items;
The eBay VeRO program is more than just a tool to report suspected cases of counterfeiting and intellectual property infringement. Members may also create a profile page which allows the brand owner to share information about its products and federal trademark registrations with the eBay retail community. For example, members of the eBay VeRO program may provide:
A list of all the brand owner’s active registered trademarks issued by the USPTO;
The potential consequences of infringing on the brand owner’s trademark registrations;
The conditions under which products bearing a brand owner’s registered trademarks may be sold – i.e., must be an authorized reseller;
How to contact the brand owner with questions or concerns and other frequently asked questions;
Not only will creating an eBay profile page bolster brand owners standing if counterfeiting or infringement occurs, but it can also help you avoid instances of intellectual property violations altogether. Once potential infringers know that you take your trademark rights seriously, they are generally less inclined to engage in illegal trademark violations.
Additional Legal Action Beyond The eBay VeRO Program
While the VeRO program is a great tool to receive immediate action on intellectual property rights violations, the VeRO program does not always completely resolve the issue. If a brand owner is successful at removing an infringing or counterfeit product listing, this does not mean the bad actor won’t relist the brand owner’s product on another online retail platform, like Amazon, Walmart and Etsy. This is why our trademark attorneys always recommend that brand owners contact us to send a cease and desist letter to the alleged infringer.
Why has eBay established the VeRO program?
eBay claims the purpose of the VeRO program is to create a “safe space” for consumers to buy and sell merchandise and to protect owners of intellectual property. While these reasons are likely true, eBay is also required to create something like the VeRO program to avoid being liable for contributory infringement. eBay can be likened to an enormous online flea market. In the past, courts have held that certain sales platforms — like a flea market — have certain responsibilities when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights. If a sales platform is aware of infringing behaviors and does not do something to stop the infringing behavior, then the sales platform can be held liable for the infringement. By allowing the infringement, the sales platform has contributed to the infringement and, thus, is liable for contributory infringement. The punishments for contributory infringement are generally the same as for the original infringer.
The courts consider a number of factors when evaluating whether a sales platform is contributorily liable for infringement. Among the factors are whether the platform has a mechanism for notice by owners and whether the platform takes actions to stop infringing behavior. The eBay VeRO program is aimed at both factors — it provides a mechanism for notice and allows eBay to remove listings and sellers that are engaged in infringing behavior.
Enrollment In eBay VeRO Program
The following is a step by step explanation of the process of enrolling in eBay’s VeRO program as a registered trademark owner:
Create an eBay Account: To enroll in the VeRO program, you must have an active eBay account. If you don’t have one, you can create one by providing your personal and business information.
Review VeRO Program Guidelines: Before enrolling in the VeRO program, you must review eBay’s VeRO program guidelines to ensure that you understand the program’s rules and requirements.
Obtain a Trademark Registration: To enroll in the VeRO program, you must have a valid trademark registration issued by the USPTO. If you do not hold a valid trademark registration issued by the USPTO, we suggest starting the trademark registration process as soon as possible. On average, it will take between 10-15 months to register a trademark with the USPTO. eBay will verify your trademark registration before you can enroll.
Submit a Notice of Claimed Infringement Form: Once you have reviewed the VeRO program guidelines and obtained a trademark registration, you can complete a valid Notice of Claimed Infringement (NOCI) form to enroll in the program. The NOCI form will require information about your brand, your trademark registration, the alleged trademark infringement and a declaration that you are the owner or authorized agent of the trademark.
Provide Proof of Trademark Registration: eBay will ask for proof of your trademark registration, such as a copy of your trademark certificate or a trademark registration number. You will also need to provide evidence that you have the right to use the trademark, such as a license agreement or a statement from the trademark owner.
Complete the Enrollment Process: Once eBay has verified your trademark registration and reviewed your application, you will be notified of your enrollment status. If your NOCI form is approved, you will receive instructions on how to use the VeRO program to enforce your trademark rights on the eBay seller platform.
Monitor your Trademark: Once you are enrolled in the VeRO program, it is important to regularly monitor eBay for any unauthorized use of your trademark. If you find any infringing listings, you can report them to eBay using the VeRO program’s reporting tools.
Keep your Trademark Registration Up-To-Date: It is important to keep your trademark registration up-to-date and to renew it when necessary. If your trademark registration expires or is cancelled, eBay may remove your enrollment in the VeRO program.
Note: This is a general overview of the enrollment process for eBay’s VeRO program and may be subject to change. For more detailed information and the most up-to-date information, it is recommended to check eBay’s VeRO program guidelines and website.
Should I Hire A Trademark Attorney?
Yes, it is highly recommended. Our experienced trademark attorneys can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the trademark registration process, from conducting a comprehensive trademark search to determine the availability of the trademark, to preparing and filing the trademark application, to responding to any objections or challenges that may arise during the review process, and can represent you in any legal disputes or trademark opposition proceedings.
Furthermore, our trademark attorneys can help you to navigate the complex and sometimes confusing legal requirements for trademark registration, and can help you to ensure that your application is complete and meets all of the necessary legal requirements. We can also help you to properly maintain your trademark registration, which is an ongoing process that requires ongoing renewals, monitoring and enforcement.
In short, engaging our trademark attorneys can help you to ensure that your trademark application is properly prepared, that it meets all of the legal requirements, and that you receive the full benefits of trademark protection. While it may cost more upfront to engage us, it can often save you time and money in the long run because we can help you avoid costly mistakes and ensuring that your trademark application is successful.
If you are a business owner seeking to register a federal trademark, or you are an online retail seller launching a store on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Etsy or other online e-commerce platform, our trademark attorneys can help. Please give us a call or contact us online by clicking the contact button and completing the form. Our trademark attorneys will respond to all inquiries within one business day.
Are you launching a new company or developing a new brand or product and need to clear and/or register a trademark? Are you an online seller enrolling in a brand registry program? Are you looking for help with another federal trademark matter? We can assist! Please do not hesitate to give us a call or fill out our contact form. There is absolutely no charge to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trademark attorneys.
NexTrend Legal, LLC, a trademark law firm with offices in Charleston, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. Our trademark attorneys provide federal trademark services to businesses of all sizes, new start-ups, franchisors, inventors, product developers, online sellers and entrepreneurs throughout the US and internationally. Our federal trademark services include, but are not limited to, trademark search, trademark registration, trademark monitoring, trademark office actions, trademark oppositions, trademark renewals and more.
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