I just listed a Tiffany & Co. Ring I received for Christmas from my boyfriend on eBay. Tiffany & Co. lawyers (Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP) are now claiming the item I listed was fake and demanding I send them $450, a letter from my counsel and the ring to them.
I would really appreciate any advice or help I can receive on this manner. As I said, I don't know how it could possibly be a fake Tiffany & Co. item, and even so, I had no intention of selling a counterfeit item, nor did I know it was allegedly fake.
I would appreciate a response as soon as you can provide one as Tiffany & Co. lawyers demand a letter in response by March 27, 2009.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Counterfeit Items
You don't even know if these lawyers are legitimate; so I suggest you work this out through ebay or have them contact your attorney.
Re: Counterfeit Items
First, you are going to need to know whether or not this is a real Tiffany & Co. ring. It is possible that you may not be able to figure this out on your own. You may need an appraiser or another expert's help if you don't have the original sales paperwork.
Second, you should know that many companies with strong brands now "police" ebay to ensure that their goods are not being "faked" or counterfeited. These companies hire lawyers to create automated computer systems to search ebay to find goods that might be infringing on their client's trademarks or counterfeiting their client's goods. This may be what is happening to you. Remember the lawyers that sent you your letter may have very little information. These lawyers may seek to broadly enforce their client's right, even with minimal information. In other words, you may get a letter like this, even when you have the real thing. Counterfeiting is a real problem on ebay. If you bought counterfeit goods there, you would not be happy, and companies are responsible for making sure others do not use their trademarks for counterfeiting.
What you will do will depend on many other factors. Where did the ring come from? Do you have your original purchase paperwork? Has ebay de-listed the item? What did you say and what photos did you post when listing the item on ebay? Does the ring actually resemble a Tiffany ring? There is no single correct way to respond to a letter like the one you received. Your response depends on what you have done and what you know.
If Tiffany & Co.'s lawyers sent you this demand letter and the ring is authentic, that would be exceptionally bad form. They should be very, very, very embarrassed for threatening their own customer with legal action.
You may wish to consult with your attorney to help you decide what actions to take next.
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