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If Tiffany win, it could mean eBay having to vet everything sold on their site, a measure that would threaten their very existence.

The case, Tiffany (NJ) Inc versus eBay Inc, should be heard later this year. The jewellers have brought the action after years of working with eBay to prevent the widespread sale of faked Tiffany jewellery on the website.

Despite eBay agreeing to remove the fakes when spotted, tens of thousands are thought to have slipped through the net in a matter of months.

eBay’s success has been built on the premise that they provide a platform for sales but take no part in them – and thereby have no legal responsibility if things go wrong. This has allowed them to built a vast marketplace, racking up enormous revenues earned on transaction charges.

Earlier attempts to challenge eBay’s protected status have failed, but Tiffany argue that eBay have a responsibility to prevent fraud, and yet are aiding and abetting it, first by allowing fake Tiffany to be advertised prominently on their site in a bid to attract buyers and, secondly, by knowingly profiting from commissions charged on the sale of faked items.