San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with Public Citizen and Public Knowledge urged a U.S. court of appeals Wednesday to reject jewelry-maker Tiffany's attempt to rewrite trademark law and create new barriers for online commerce and communication.

Tiffany sued the online marketplace eBay, claiming that eBay should be held liable for trademark infringement when sellers offer counterfeit Tiffany goods on the eBay site. The evidence in the case showed that eBay quickly takes down listings when Tiffany sends notice that it believes a specific item is not genuine. However, Tiffany wants eBay to police listings on its own and to be held responsible for any counterfeit items it missed.

"Millions of Americans use sites like eBay and craigslist to buy and sell goods," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Michael Kwun. "If Tiffany had its way, sites like eBay would be responsible for figuring out whether items its users are selling -- items eBay itself never sees -- are authentic or counterfeit. That's an impossible task."

A judge correctly rejected Tiffany's claims earlier this year. In an amicus brief filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, EFF asks the court to reject Tiffany's new attempts to expand trademark law.

"The Internet has created new opportunities for communication, and trademarks are an integral part of this exchange," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "But if intermediaries have to take on the burden of policing trademarks, many Internet service providers will take the easy route and remove any posting that is even remotely suspicious. That would effectively quash the extraordinary growth of online commerce and speech."

For the full amicus brief:

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Michael Kwun
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation