The internet is increasingly being used for trading in counterfeit goods, especially through online auction sites. Counterfeit medicines on sale via readily accessible websites are a particular problem for law enforcers.
Knowingly selling counterfeit goods is illegal. Dealing commercially in fake goods by using similar or identical trade marks to those of the genuine products is illegal.
Even without a registered trade mark, it is illegal for goods to be sold commercially if the public is deceived into thinking that they are purchasing the actual branded goods that are being imitated. And as a result, the owner of the authentic goods suffers loss of profit or reputation.
As a consumer, you have the same rights buying goods on the internet as in a shopping centre for goods which are mis-described.
When you buy from an e-commerce business rather than from a private individual, you have further rights in relation to refunds and cancellations. But be especially wary if the trader is abroad, as this may lead to problems in getting redress for faulty goods.
If you pay by credit card for goods costing over £100, you may be able to make a claim either from the trader or from the credit card company if the goods are defective.
As for e-Bay's transactions, verification checks are being added for sellers of the kinds of goods which often get pirated - such as DVDs or software.
Rachel Burnett, solicitor. Burnett IT Legal Services. firstname.lastname@example.org