Understanding eBay’s Vero Program

The Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program has been around for quite a few years yet there are undoubtedly many eBay sellers who haven’t even heard of it. This guide will explore what exactly the program is, how sellers can avoid interaction with it and what to do if accused of infringing VeRO policies.

eBay’s VeRO program

To understand the VeRO program, it is important to first clarify the meaning of intellectual property.

Intellectual property – patents, copyright and trademarks

Intellectual property is the ownership of ideas. Intellectual property can be protected by law in the form of patents, copyright and trademarks. These three methods allow owners to gain recognition and financial benefit from their idea. Examples of intellectual infringement include:

  • Reproducing and distributing copyrighted book or film without permission
  • Creating a slogan or logo that looks very similar to an existing, very popular trademarked one
  • Copying patented technology to develop and sell a new product

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act

The creation of the Verified Rights Owner program came after the introduction of the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 (with equivalents in other countries). The Act intended to stop increasing intellectual property infringement issues online. One clause of the DMCA promotes protection for website hosts, such as eBay, against infringement if they follow certain procedures. To take advantage of this protection, eBay created VeRO.

Protecting intellectual property owners

eBay’s VeRO program allows trademark and copyright owners to request the removal of listings that infringe on their rights. This program puts the responsibility of finding violations back on the intellectual property owners. In doing so, eBay avoids any kind of liability for items sold on the site that may violate intellectual property rights as per the DMCA.

eBay sellers and the VeRO

With intellectual property owners being allowed to request the removal of listings via VeRO, eBay sellers should be aware of potential infringements. Here are some examples:

Selling counterfeits, fakes or replicas of brand name products

Items that show the logo or label of a company but are not manufactured by that company are considered counterfeits. These are also illegal.

Example of listing violation: A sweatshirt with an Adidas logo that was not made by Adidas.

Misusing brand names

Brand names cannot be used in a listing unless the item is manufactured by that brand name

Example of listing violation: A pair of leggings described as ‘just like Lululemon,’ but not made by Lululemon.

Bootlegged media

It is against copyright laws to sell copied, pirated or bootlegged movies, music and software.

Example of listing violation: A burned DVD featuring a pirated movie.

Item description and image

Using a copied description or stock images is against copyright rules unless permission is granted to use them.

Example of listing violation: A copied and pasted description from the manufacturer’s website.

Imports

Some items are not allowed to be sold outside their country of origin.

Example of listing violation: A video game that was intended for sale in Japan only.

The eBay Seller Center offers more examples, including some region-specific variations of intellectual property infringements.

Violating VeRO

With the responsibility of spotting infringements in the hands of intellectual property owners, many eBay sellers may never experience a VeRO violation. The process works as follows:

  • The intellectual property owner files VeRO report to eBay regarding a potential violation.
  • eBay will then remove the listing and contact the seller with a removal notification email. This should include an overview why the listing was removed and how to contact the intellectual property owner.
  • If the eBay seller believes that the removal was in error, they can contact the intellectual property owner to discuss their case. Listings with inappropriately described items can be edited and re-listed.
  • If the intellectual property owner does not reply within 5 business days, sellers should contact eBay.
  • Listings fees may or may not be refunded depending on the VeRO violation.

VeRO best practices

Avoiding a VeRO violation is fairly easy for sellers following good eBay practices. Here are some quick tips:

  • Always create original listing descriptions with accurate information and details about the item
  • Remember that using factual information from the manufacturer (such as weight and dimensions) is OK
  • Take photos of each item, avoiding stock images
  • Do not create and sell unauthorized copies of movies or other media
  • Don’t mislead buyers – avoid comparisons and only use brand names when selling an item made by that brand
  • Include a photo of the original receipt, with personal information removed, in listings that feature commonly counterfeited items (e.g. purses)
  • Double check items are real before selling them on eBay
  • Ask questions – if in doubt about an item, contact the manufacturer via eBay’s VeRO Participant Profiles