None of this is legal advice. If you want legal advice, consult a lawyer. I’m not a lawyer.
What is VeRO?
VeRO is a way for eBay to help copyright, trademark and patent holders enforce their intellectual property rights on eBay. The IP rights holder registers with eBay then submits a report whenever they find an infraction.
eBay removes the infraction from their site. Use VeRO to fix problems where someone is violating your IP rights on eBay by:
• Using your copyrighted content without permission
• Using your trademark without permission
• Selling counterfeit products
Should I Report Copyright Violations on eBay?
To determine if your company should be concerned about IP violations on eBay, let’s look at the effects of a monitoring and reporting program on individual sellers and on your brand presence on eBay.
When you report a seller who has used your IP without authorization, their listing is removed. They can still sell the item on eBay if they create a new listing. If they are reported multiple times their selling account will probably be shut down. This threat creates a strong incentive for a seller to take their own pictures and write their own copy when relisting a reported item. It also creates an incentive for the merchant to avoid selling this product from this brand in the future since additional work is required to create listings.
A consistently applied program then has two distinct effects on eBay. There will be fewer listings of your products, and a greater diversity of images and content used in the listings. This can benefit a product company if they have an official retail presence on eBay. It will make it more obvious who the official seller is and, by reducing competing listings, will focus more of the attention on the official listings.
There can be downsides as well. Requiring each seller to produce their own creative may reduce the quality and accuracy of content used to represent your products on eBay.
If you think your brand can benefit from a clearer distinction between official and unofficial sellers on eBay, then VeRO is the right tool to use.
What Can I Report?
Can I report a seller who copied my product description off my website?
Can I report a seller who used my product images that I created and uploaded to my website?
Can I report someone who copied all the content from the product listing on Amazon?
Nope. Not unless that content also exists on your website. Amazon is the copyright holder for the content on their site so they would have to submit the complaint if it only copies Amazon.
Can I report someone who is selling my competitor’s product and using my trademarked logo in the listing?
Can I report someone who is selling my product and took their own picture where my trademark is visible on the product?
No. That is allowed under the first-sale doctrine.
Can I report someone selling a competing product that is violating my competitor’s IP rights?
You’re sneaky and trying to remove competing listings from eBay’s search results. That won’t work. You can only report someone for violating your own IP rights. Your competitors have to enforce their own rights.
I do not want anyone selling my products on eBay. Can I report them with VeRO?
No. VeRO is for intellectual property problems, not distribution problems. You will need to identify the seller and follow up with your distribution and retail partners. We have a whole other article dedicated to distribution problems like this.
The best way to keep track of possible infractions is to follow a search on eBay. Search for your brand name or product names then click Follow this Search.
This creates a daily email alert containing every new listing matching your search.
Review the current listings on eBay and the new listings that show up in your inbox to see if anyone is violating your intellectual property. Visit the listing and view all of the images and content. Sometimes it is not the main image but one of the eight other images that has been copied from your website. Also scan the content for writing taken from your website.
Start the VeRO claims process on this page. To start filling out the report, click on Notice of Claimed Infringement. Here are a few tips that will help you fill out the form correctly the first time.
- The process uses DocuSign
- To start out, you will get an email to verify the address you submitted. Once you verify your email address with the code, you can fill out the form.
- Enter your name, role, and email address, not just generic contact information for your company. eBay responds to requests and sometimes asks for clarifications. That information needs to go to the person filling out this form.
- Under Work(s) Infringed include a link to the infringed content
- For eBay to verify that you own the rights to the infringed content it must be hosted online on your official company website.
- This field has a maximum length. If your link is too long, shorten it with a URL shortener like Bitly.
- If you are having trouble locating the image on your website, you can use a tool called TinEye to search for identical pictures
- Item Numbers can be found on the eBay listings
- Efficiency: you can report up to three works infringed upon and multiple listings per infringed work on the same report. That means if five people copied one of your images, you can report them all at once.
- Reason Codes are lower on the form. If someone copied your images, the reason code is 4.2
If the domain on your email address doesn’t match the brand you are reporting you will need to email firstname.lastname@example.org right after submitting your first complaint. For instance, if your email is email@example.com and you are reporting an infringement for Example Brand, eBay won’t be able to confirm that you are the rights holder from your notice of claimed infringement without additional information. To provide the required information write a letter on official letterhead that says you are the rights holder or represent the rights holder. Sign the letter then send an email. You have to send the email after you fill out the first complaint. Include the Envelope ID from the confirmation email so eBay can match your email to your report.
eBay may call or email and ask for more information so make sure the email address and phone number submitted belong to someone who is aware of the issue.
If a listing has been removed, you will receive a confirmation email within 2 business days of your report. If eBay does not act on a valid report after 2 days, submit again. Wait 2 more business days then email firstname.lastname@example.org with the Envelope ID from the confirmation email or a copy of your report for clarification.
Be a Good Citizen
VeRO places considerable power in the hands of IP rights holders. Properly reported infractions are assumed to be accurate and listings are removed. At this point, the burden is on the seller to challenge any inaccurate reports which can severely hamper their ability to make money.
Please make absolutely certain that your reports are accurate before submitting them. Inaccurate reports prevent small business owners from earning money and put your company at risk for a lawsuit.
If you’re a seller who has been on the receiving end of a bad VeRO complaint (you created all the images and wrote all the content yourself) I recommend you read this advice by Rick Drew.
Have VeRO reports worked well for your organization in the past? Do you think it is worthwhile to file reports on eBay?