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488 comments

I don't know about that, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907271)

but I do know that if I can't find any Cory Doctorow nudes (and stat!), this erection is going to be a thing of the past.

Re:I don't know about that, (1)

Ads are broken (718513) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907279)

Wow! Please keep us updated.

Re:I don't know about that, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907395)

Still nothing. I did find some Drew Carey crotch shots, and without my glasses, they're passable for a good Doctorow. Actually, even with my glasses, they're passable. Score!

Auctions (if fair & open) yield the RIGHT pric (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907295)

... in other words, the price which the buyer is willing to pay and which the seller is willing to accept.

Any other kind of pricing is rigged.

Re:Auctions (if fair & open) yield the RIGHT p (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907319)

Uh. Rigging is the whole point of intellectual monopoly law. It's antithetical to free market capitalism. I don't know why you're surprised, america - you're about as capitalist as the soviets were communist.

Re:Auctions (if fair & open) yield the RIGHT p (5, Interesting)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907715)

Not exactly. Auctions that follow the Vickrey auction [wikipedia.org] scenario are much closer to the "right" market price. Basically, everyone posts a secret bid, and the person who bids the highest wins, paying the price of the second highest bid. I've read numerous studies (too lazy to link to them) that conclude the Vickrey auction to set a much fairer and true price than traditional auctions.

Re:Auctions (if fair & open) yield the RIGHT p (1)

WhatHappenedToTanith (1126905) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907947)

This is how some houses are sold here in the UK too (including the one we bought). It is annoying as anything but ensures fairness and value for the seller in a short timeframe when the property is in demand and I think that they certainly do reflect fairly on the "right" market price as well.

It's more complex than that (5, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907845)

It's more complex than that.

E.g., what if it's a counterfeit product? It's damn easy to undercut someone's prices when you don't have to invest a cent in research (even if it's "what are people willing to wear this season") or even in marketing (since you're piggy-backing on someone else's brand image and using their own marketing investment against them.) Often you can cut more corners too, because, hey, if the product malfunctions spectacularly or even hurts someone, it's not _your_ brand image that goes down the drain.

Or what about stolen goods? Or defective goods which someone was supposed to dispose of, but made a bit of money on the side auctioning them? It's damn easy to undercut prices when you're selling stuff you got, essentially, for free by illegal means.

Or the case comes to mind which saddled us all with frequency- or multiplier-locked CPUs. A bunch of dishonest fucks figured out that they can take, say, a cheap 100 MHz CPU and overclock it to 133 MHz, make a computer with it, and sell it for quite a bit of profit. Remember that at the time most of the ID of a CPU was what was printed on it, and it was up to you to set the motherboard jumpers right. So, being that the CPU in a complete computer was under a heatsink, there wasn't even much way to see if you got defrauded without taking the computer apart, which Joe Average didn't usually do. But some went as far as to erase what was printed on the CPU and actually print the higher CPU frequency on it.

It was something which actively damaged Intel's reputation, and later AMD's when they were the last to sell unlocked CPUs. People were buying computers which kept crashing, or only worked as long as the temperature in your room was under 20C. Summer comes and your computer is a dysfunctional piece of shit. You'd maybe take it back to the shop and they'd tell you some "yeah, we've had a lot of problems with bad Intel CPUs lately." (When the only problem was that they had defrauded you of a lot of money.) There was a _lot_ of "Intel CPUs are shit and crash all the time" bad reputation built at the time. And later it was "AMD CPUs are shit and crash all the time."

Just, you know, in case you were wondering why CPUs are locked nowadays.

So basically it's trivial to have some auction where the whole point is that it's _not_ fair and open, you're not even buying what you think you're buying. And it might not be a price that a normal, honest seller would ever accept.

Plus, just because Slashdot has _yet_ _again_ a lopsided and inflammatory story, it doesn't mean you can jump to a conclusion based on it. There used to be a time when the stories actually had anything to do with technology, and it was exciting new stuff, not "version 2.5.1.2 of Product X released, people advised to patch their 2.5.1.1 version." Nowadays it seems that lopsided "company X is violating your rights if they don't buy me a pony" astroturfing is more common than anything even remotely related to computing.

So basically, if a story seems like a clear-cut "side X is 100% right, side Y is 100% wrong and are evil fucks to boot", that's usually your clue that you're spoon fed an astroturfing story. Reality is rarely that neat, and the devil often is in the details you're not getting, or are getting a cherry-picked slightly-warped version. If you can cherry-pick only the details you like, you'd be surprised how far reality can be warped. (E.g., think, "Hitler was buying roads and factories and the allies attacked him for it." If you conveniently omit such details as, you know, that three continents were plunged into all out war at the time and the ethnic cleansing part, the whole story takes a very different angle.)

Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (5, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907311)

I predicted here that companies would soon rely on the Supreme Court's decision in Leegin Creative Leather Products v. PSKS to justify interfering with competition from less expensive products sold online. It did not take long for that prediction to come true. Although interference with eBay sales is nothing new (see here and here), companies in two recently filed federal cases explicitly invoke Leegin as a justification for terminating the eBay auctions of competitors that charge lower prices online. These cases not only show Leegin's likely effect on Internet sales, but are also, unfortunately, fairly typical examples of the sort of anticompetitive actions companies take to fight lower-priced competition online.

In the first case, Merle Norman Cosmetics v. LaBarbera, No. 07-60811 (S.D. Fla.), Merle Norman Cosmetics filed suit against eBay seller Joyce LaBarbera for selling its makeup on eBay at a discount. The company had previously terminated a variety of eBay auctions by claiming that the sale of its makeup violated an unspecified FDA regulation. In this case, however, the company concedes that the eBay seller could rightfully resell the makeup on eBay if, as she claims, she purchased the makeup at a flea market. Merle Norman, however, suspects that the eBay seller is in fact buying the makeup from a salon that, pursuant to its contract with Merle Norman, has agreed not to sell anything on the Internet. Merle Norman says it demands these contracts so that purchasers can only buy the makeup at Merle Norman stores, with the guidance of "beauty consultants" who are "specially trained in proper hygienic practices." Of course, the contracts also help ensure that the products won't be available outside the stores at reduced prices.

Although Merle Norman does not claim that the eBay seller ever contracted with the company, it contends that the seller's act of purchasing the makeup from a salon that had entered such an agreement and then selling "at discount prices" on the Internet constituted unfair competition, interference with its contracts, and civil conspiracy (see complaint). In other words, the eBay seller, according to the company, is guilty of breaching somebody else's contracts and unfairly competing by selling to consumers on the Internet at prices that are too low. In its brief in the district court, Merle Norman relies on Leegin, which had been decided just a few days earlier, in support of its right to "require dealers to charge certain resale prices to promote interbrand competition." The company claims that "the law is well settled that manufacturers like [Merle Norman] have the right to control the manner of distribution of their products." Although the district court denied the pro se defendant's motion for a preliminary injunction, the case is now on track for trial.

The second case is Colon v. Innovate! Technology, Inc., No. 07-21349 (S.D. Fla.). Innovate! Technology ("ITI") is a company that makes high-performance car parts. According to its brief in the district court (warning, large file), the company "sells its products only via authorized distributors and retailers" that "comply with ITI's policy of Minimum Advertised Pricing." The company views sales by unauthorized sellers (i.e., those who sell too cheaply) to be not only a violation of its minimum-price policy, but, surprisingly, as an infringement of its intellectual property rights. ITI's eBay "About Me" page explains that the sale of its products by anyone but an authorized dealer constitutes patent and trademark infringement. Moreover, the company claims the right to prohibit all use of its copyrighted "technical data, photos, graphics, software, product literature, catalogues, product specifications, installation guides, user guides, promotional material and other types of information" without its permission. In other words, the company claims it is copyright infringement to read its user guides and manuals, browse its catalogs, or look at its pictures without its "express written permission." Presumably, the company feels that selling its products at a reduced price, with the manuals included, also constitutes a prohibited "use."

Osvaldo Izquierdo Colon is an eBay seller who purchases ITI's car parts from an authorized wholesaler and resells them on eBay at a discount. When ITI found out about Colon's sales, it invoked eBay's VeRO program (an implementation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to terminate Colon's auctions. According to its notice of claimed infringement, ITI claimed a good faith belief that by selling its products on eBay without its permission, Colon was violating the company's intellectual property rights. Pursuant to eBay's policies, ITI's claim of infringement led to automatic termination of Colon's auctions and also put him at risk of losing his eBay account (and thus his livelihood) altogether. Colon attempted to contest the company's claims with eBay, but after ITI once again terminated his auctions, he filed suit in federal district court for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement.

ITI responded with a motion to dismiss that, although mostly procedural, also cites Leegin for the principle that "manufacturers have the right to sell [their] products at the retail level at a minimum price." The company invokes the same fears that led the Supreme Court in Leegin to buy into the argument that higher prices are good for consumers, arguing that, without its price-protection scheme, "ITI's authorized retailers could not compete with those unauthorized dealers selling well below [the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price] and ITI would go out of business." Of course, even assuming that ITI does have a right to impose minimum prices, it wouldn't explain why Colon's sales of its products are unlawful, much less intellectual property infringement. But with Leegin in place, ITI seems to feel comfortable that its minimum-price policies will survive legal scrutiny.

Even with Leegin, the companies' claims in these cases are pretty questionable. Leegin's existence, however, has given companies pursuing these sorts of claims a new potential justification for interfering with online auctions and suing competitors that undercut their prices. These cases may be the first, but they will not be the last.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (4, Insightful)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907419)

i think this whole ordeal is really about resellers in general, they just need a scapegoat because it affects their online sales presence.

but whats rediculous is the fact that these products were ALREADY PURCHASED. Therefore the company has already made its bucks off of its products. Besides there's plenty of people out there who'd still rather go through an official source rather than ebay even if they spend a bit more. It really comes down to quality of product and quality of services, if someone thinks they're better off through ebay the problem is not with ebay.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (5, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907659)

these products were ALREADY PURCHASED

Mark my words, pretty soon we will not be 'buying' anything, but will be 'licensing' lipstick and shampoo and hotdogs and underpants for 'personal use only', just like software.

Just FIY for those of you who've been on the Moon for the last 25 years, for all the chest-thumping economic rhetoric about the free market, it is completely ignored by companies who are actually interested in profit. Why? Because you can't make a profit in a competitive market. It's as simple as that. True competition drives profit margins down to subsistence levels. If you want to haul in billions you need to have a minimally competitive market: monopoly, oligopoly or cartel.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (4, Interesting)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907743)

Perhaps the whole problem is that companies expect^H^H^H^H^H believe it is their right to make billions. Maybe profits are way too skewed towards the big corporate players that a totally free market is needed to put balance in the system. If someone wants to sell a comparable product at a fraction of the cost, so be it. Leave the courts out of it.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907457)

Maybe I am missing something, but where is the business model in buying something for a high price and selling it for a low price? The only way this works is if the auctioners are able to purchase product for less than the minimum prices from an authorized dealer. If authorized dealers are sellling product at below their contracted minimum prices these dealers are who the manufacturers should be going after, not the auctioners.

It shouldn't be that hard to find the source of the discount goods - most manufacturers have (or should have) some type of serial or batch numbering system and should be able to trace the discount goods back to the authorized dealer.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (4, Insightful)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907705)

The only way this works is if the auctioners are able to purchase product for less than the minimum prices from an authorized dealer. If authorized dealers are sellling product at below their contracted minimum prices these dealers are who the manufacturers should be going after, not the auctioners.

That's precisely the problem. The make-up case was the woman buying them at a flea market (probably from a salon owner selling overstock) and then selling them on eBay. The autoparts case was the man buying from a wholesaler (legitimately), but the man never signed the official licensed retailer contract with the company, so he could sell at less than the MSRP.

This just confirms something to me that certain classes of laissez-faire types keep missing: the private sector can just be as bad as the government for the market. The only thing keeping them in check is ironically government regulation of the market.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (1, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#19908047)

This just confirms something to me that certain classes of laissez-faire types keep missing: the private sector can just be as bad as the government for the market. The only thing keeping them in check is ironically government regulation of the market.

What you missed here, actually, is that they can only do it if the State gives them such power.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907783)

Most people on ebay do buy at a higher price and sell at a lower one. It's called "sell off your old crap cuz it's taking up too much space." Do you sell items at a garage sale higher than the purchase price? Didn't think so.

Those ebayers who have their own "online store" sell at prices comparable to any other online retailer.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907907)

(all numbers made up)
The problem is that the car parts manufacturer has dictated profit margins at each level of the distribution chain. They sell to the wholesaler for $100, and require him to sell to the retailer for $150, and require the retailer to sell for $200. Someone managed to get some units from a wholesaler for $150 without signing the "will only sell for $200" contract, so now they can sell for $175, cream the retailer competition, and still make a $25 per unit profit. The ACTUAL contract breach in this example is the wholesaler selling to someone who hasn't signed the price fixing agreement, and that may or may not be actionable. But what is going on here, pursuing the "illegal" retailer, is bogus.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19908017)

I imagine it could be a situation where someone is looking on ebay for a product that isn't easy to find and finds it for cheap with eBay seller 2229891 who has an eBay store with similar products (which aren't marked to less than cost). The thought process is that the customer will be more likely to look for that eBay store next time for similar purchases, which could be more profitable than the initial one.

Minimizing Losses (1)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 6 years ago | (#19908043)

This is true, but it becomes an issue with overstock and discontinued items. You may sell at a loss just to get some of your money back, and brands want to prevent discounted products.

Re:Blatant slashdotted post... karma me up scotty (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907995)

You know, the real problem here is eBay's submission to this sort of thing at the expense of their sellers (their actual customers!). Can eBay not afford a legal defense fund?

Fair Use? (5, Insightful)

TheBearBear (1103771) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907313)

ITI's eBay "About Me" page explains that the sale of its products by anyone but an authorized dealer constitutes patent and trademark infringement

The seller wasn't even under contract. Are they saying that I can't resell a wrench (or shoe) that I just bought? It's MINE! Can the seller selling the makeup get around this by saying that the products are "used"? Like she licked the box or something.

Re:Fair Use? (3, Interesting)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907383)

Yes, that appears to be what they're trying to say. I hope they're prepared for a lawsuit, because somebody's going to see an opportunity to win a lawsuit against them. Interpreting any law to mean your customers can't resell their property is bound to get either the law overturned, you sued, or both.

#1 - yes, #2 - no. (5, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907409)

Yes, they are attempting to block reselling products ... online.

No, stating that it is "used" would not circumvent this ... online ... if they get their way.

The online part is important. It is the online part that is hitting their sales. People can quickly search for lower prices. Certain vendors do NOT like that.

So they hit back with every legal weirdness they can find. You can't use their trademarked names. You can't use photographs of their products. Etc.

It's stupid and it should be shot down. But we'll see how it eventually works out. Right now it's easy for them to win under the DMCA.

Re:#1 - yes, #2 - no. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907689)

It's not stupid, the supreme court was bribed nicely to make that decision.

Oh wait did I say bribed? I mean lobbied.

Lobbying is legal bribing is illegal.

the difference is only in the word used.

there is no honor among any of those judges. I disrespect every one of them.

Re:Fair Use? (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907413)

Are they saying that I can't resell a wrench (or shoe) that I just bought? It's MINE! .

You can! But only if you sell it at a higher or equal price! Nice way to kill second hand market uh? count down until MAFIAA industry uses this kind of tactics for their benefits??? ...

Yes, I am that paranoid...

Re:Fair Use? (4, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907523)

No, this is wrong. The agreements that the Supreme Court ruling allows are agreements between manufacturers and retailers that prevent the retailer from selling the goods at less than a certain minimum price. If you are a wholesaler who has been selling at a discount on eBay, this decision affects you because you enter, directly or indirectly, into a contract with the manufacturer to observe the minimum price.

However, if you are Joe consumer and you buy a hammer at a hardware store, or any other retail outlet, the contractual chain ends with the retailer who sells it to you. The retailer fulfills his obligation by selling the hammer to you at no less than the minimum price set by the manufacturer. You do not enter into any contract concerning resale of the hammer when you buy it at retail. The doctrine of First Sale applies and you may now do whatever you like with the hammer, including reselling it for less than the manufacturer's minimum. What this decision does is it allows manufacturers to prevent discounting of the initial retail sale. That is probably a bad thing, though some economists argue otherwise. This decision has no effect on the sale of used goods.

Re:Fair Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907839)

It's good to see someone actually understanding the issue as opposed to jumping to conclusions. I'd give you points if I could sign in, but I'm at work.

Re:Fair Use? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907849)

if you are Joe consumer and you buy a hammer at a hardware store, or any other retail outlet, the contractual chain ends with the retailer who sells it to you.
Everything you said is wrong if the lawsuits in question are successful. That's the whole point. If the makeup manufacturer can successfully sue somebody who has not entered into any agreement with them, it's a whole new ballgame. I think it would end the gray market.

Re:Fair Use? (1)

The PS3 Will Fail (998952) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907599)

Surprisingly, Sony was way out in front on this one. They sued lik-sang.com out of business against that very assertion you make - that you have a right to resell a product as you see fit.

Re:Fair Use? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907919)

Yes, that is exactly what they are saying. They feel that they have permanent exclusive distribution control rights under *any* situation.

Re:Fair Use? (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 6 years ago | (#19908019)

It's not like "a" wrench. It's like having "TheBearBears's SnapOn Store".

hawk

confusing at best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907317)

The article reads like FUD.

Used CDs as an example... (1)

Dieppe (668614) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907323)

Much like CDs, the initial purchase should have paid for the "license" to sell the thing however you wish, at whatever price you wish. Of course RIAA would rather each person who touches a CD pay the full purchase price.

I think this will get shot down... or at least we can only hope and pray that it does.

I realize that they're talking about products that the manufacturer WANTS to be sold only a higher prices, not through eBay for a bargain. But you know, if I paid the manufacturer price for an item I should be able to see it however I wish, right?

Re:Used CDs as an example... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907405)

Much like CDs, the initial purchase should have paid for the "license" to sell the thing however you wish, at whatever price you wish.

FUD. Nothing (nothing) stops you from selling the physical CD that you physically bought.

Re:Used CDs as an example... (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907467)

>>I think this will get shot down... or at least we can only hope and pray that it does.

I believe the court case does not prevent an individual from reselling at whatever price as long as you didn't have an agreement that would cause you to. I believe what it does allow is someone to refuse to sell to you unless you agreed to resell at a certain minimum price. That is if I remember correctly; the article doesn't really get into this and mainly just kind of talks about how people already inclined to take frivolous action against eBayers will also try to invoke this court decision in the process (again, frivously).

Too late... (5, Funny)

Walenzack (916393) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907337)

My first thought after reading this was something like:
"Great, first you can't copy your own CDs, now you can't sell your owm belongings... Before you know you won't be able to even kill yourself".

But then I remembered that suicide is considered a crime in some, if not most of, western countries (like mine, Spain). Too late.

Re:Too late... (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907589)

But then I remembered that suicide is considered a crime in some, if not most of, western countries (like mine, Spain).

You know, this has always been amusing to me.

Just how are they going to punish a suicide for breaking the law? Extra nails in the coffin?

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907805)

Just how are they going to punish a suicide for breaking the law? Extra nails in the coffin?
I believe that the preferred method in some cultures is to punish the surviving members in some way, usually by way of encouraging the rest of the local society to shun them. This is more often than not achieved by "religious" means - for example them being considered "the damned" in some way and therefore dangerous to interact with.

Re:Too late... (3, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907871)

Just how are they going to punish a suicide for breaking the law? Extra nails in the coffin?

Of course, if the person committing suicide succeeds the laws against it are irrelevant.

However, like many crimes you can also be punished for 'attempting it'.

By making suicide illegal, police are allowed to intervene when someone attempts it. Courts are allowed to prescribe mental health evaluation, rehab, etc.

Personally I support a persons right to die... but I also agree that 'the right to die' shouldn't be extended to every distraught teen with a drug problem who just caught her boyfriend cheating on her. The decision to die is permanent, and you shouldn't be allowed to make that decision without proper consideration, or simply because you are suffering from treatable depression.

Re:Too late... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907883)

Maybe making suicide illegal somehow helps survivors such as insurance companies and creditors.

suicide as crime (2, Insightful)

hawk (1151) | more than 6 years ago | (#19908051)

actually, it used to make a lot of sense.

There simply wasn't an exception to murder for killing yourself.

The *reason* it made sense is that felony meant that your life and lands were forfeit to the crown. Your life was already gone, but now your son didn't inherit. Typically, the son paid a year's income or some such to get the property back.

hawk

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907727)

in some, if not most of, western countries (like mine, Spain)
Fine. Pack up your shit and go; find some cozy cave in Northern Pakistan and shake your precious fist at the west, like your neighbors. When the westerners, or anyone informed, armed, funded by or otherwise affiliated with the west gets near your cave shoot them. Plant IEDs. Have fun!

Spoiled little turds.

First Sale Rights (4, Insightful)

grahammm (9083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907379)

What happened to the first sale rights? Once you have bought something, are you not supposed to be allowed to sell it at whatever price you like with no interference from the manufacturer or distributor?

Re:First Sale Rights (2, Insightful)

Rufty (37223) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907627)

How quaint. Right of fist sale's going the way of right to privacy.

RIP Doctrine of First Sale. McDisneySoftMart Wins (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907799)

What happened to the first sale rights?

The Supreme Court flushed 100 years of law down the toilet with a half assed decision that will create a flood of stupid litigation like the story details. It's half assed because the 5 strong majority made the ridiculous claim that SOMETIMES these kinds of agreement are AOK and can be enforced. The philosophical hypocrisy is obvious but the full shut down of internet competition is not to people who may never have bought something from ebay. The decider will be a court and that provides no justice at all in the fast paced world of the internet. How many months can any of you go with all your means of doing business shut down? Big business will use this to crush mom and pop retailers, so you can expect yet another round of vertical consolidation. There's no way the courts will be able to keep up with all of the complaints and only the larger retailers will be left.

McDisneySoftMart is very happy about this indeed. The malls will overflow again as people forget about online shopping. Welcome back to 1970, where the best deal in town are at Sears but now all the shit is made in China. Hey, you have to be authorized to sell stuff from China, don't you know?

So much for the "free market" (3, Insightful)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907425)

But part of me wishes that the majority of consumers in the U.S. would shop based on the quality of products and services, not just the price.

Anecdote:
I've recently been looking in my area (D/FW, Texas) for a reputable consumer electronics dealer - specifically hi-fi equipment. Not too long ago, there were several good places to buy. One of my favorites was Hillcrest Hi-Fi, a local business well-known around here; they were purchased by Tweeter a couple years ago. Fast forward to today - all of the better shops that had knowledgeable people are gone; only Best Buy and Circuit City remain (ugh!).

Long story short:
Due to a combination of grey market "deals" on the Internet, mega-chains buying out local businesses, and the HDTV pricing war, I no longer have any place that will meet my requirements for buying expensive electronic equipment. I don't buy cars over the Internet or from Uncle Al's Cars and Appliances, and I don't buy expensive electronics from places like Best Buy.

I a way, I sympathize with the few places left with a quality product and good service who just want a way to stay competitive and stay in business.

Re:So much for the "free market" (1)

topham (32406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907555)

Places like that disappeared because they created an unsustainable market. Artificially increasing the price to where it was not necessary to have a reasonable number of sales to survive.

Companies like this tend to disappear over time anyway, many of them don't actually offer service, but rather give the illusion of service and think it is worth 40-50% markup.

Re:So much for the "free market" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907629)

I completely agree. My take is that price isn't everything. If this forces some out of business who happened to charge lower prices, so be it. I'd rather the economy focus on quality and service than a race to the bottom idea of who can do it the cheapest. As long as someone can sell the same product dirt cheap with low overhead online, there is little incentive for shops that actually provide service and knowledge to stay in business. People will simply get the knowledge from them and then buy elsewhere. It may not be best for the pocketbook to cut out the dirt cheap retailers, but its better for society if we focus on other aspects than simply price.

Re:So much for the "free market" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907723)

Driving online retailers out of business is not "staying competitive." It is destroying competition.

Re:So much for the "free market" (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907773)

Problem is Quality is relative.

I can get you a power conditioner for your home entertainment center.

One costs $199.00 the other is $3500.00

One is from tripplite, is very nice but economy priced.

The other one is from richard gray power company. and is fantastic on paper.

Unless you understand electronics and electricity. then you realize that one of them is a complete and utter scam. The salesmen even tell you to inform the buyer that it will take from 30-60 days for your capacitors in your equipment to re-learn and get conditioned to the new cleaner power. Coincidentally that time happens AFTER the return period is up.

guess which one is the snake oil garbage? Hint: not the one that is affordable.

People do not understand quality because they refuse to become educated enough to make a decision based on quality. so they look at price. High price = quality right! that Sony Viao is a far better laptop than that lenovo, it's more expensive! That Ferrari is far better than that ford,GM,toyota... it's way more expensive.

Fact: Ferrari's are garbage, having owned a 308 they are utter crap with a fancy name tag. Nice technology, but reliability is horrid they are designed for performance not reliability.

Fact: Sony laptops are crap compared to lenovo and other brands, hands down. I have trashed more Sony laptops than anything else, even the low grade Dell beats sony in longevity. Online there are far more people complaining about Sony laptops than any other brand. (well maybe gateway has more complaints)

Problem is it takes education, LOTS of education to buy smart and for quality. Education is not what the consumer wants to hear, they want to buy their new "ooh shiney!" right now.

Me getting a grey market refurb Video ipod that looks new and has a 30 day warranty for $120.00 less than retail, on ebay gives me an extra $120 for more ooh shiney.

and that is what matters.

Greed is rampant (2, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907431)

Politicians lay down with corporations. Judges cackle over injustices. The clouds gather.
Anime DVDs go up in price.

Sorry, just feeling apocalyptic today.

Wrong. It's not lye down (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907513)

It's owned by Corporations.

USA isn't a democracy. It's a giant auction. Your vote means nothing.

Got to love america (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907433)

Better than a soap opera, bad down side is that there will be a push to make this the norm every where else. What happened to free trade.

Granny's Knitting (5, Funny)

Bob the Hamster (705714) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907455)

BAM! The door splintered off its hinges, and toppled into the room. The cats yowled and scrambled under the furniture. Six police officers with plexiglass masks and riot guns stormed into the room and surrounded Granny's overstuffed floral-patterned armchair.

"Oh, my!" said Granny.

"Drop the knitting!" shouted one of the officers. "And keep your hands were we can see them!" he added.

Granny released the needles, and the scarf fell into her lap with the yarn. The officer who had spoken reached out with the barrel of his gun and nudged the knitting from her lap onto the floor.

"Clear!" shouted another officer.

A young plainclothes officer carrying a digital clipboard entered the room, gingerly stepping over the wreck of the door. He gave the heap of knitting a scowl, and stopped in front of Granny. The riot police shifted aside to give him a clear view of her.

"Abigail Theresa Winslow?" the officer read from his clipboard.

Granny removed her reading glasses and looked up at the man. "Yes, that's my name." she said.

"You are hereby charged with Economic Terrorism in the 2nd Degree. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say is being recorded, and can be used against you in a court of law."

"I don't understand!" wailed Granny, wringing her hands.

The officer ducked down and picked up Granny's knitting. He held it up to the light, lifting it with only his thumb and forefinger, as if he did not like to touch it.

"This is a beautiful scarf, Mrs. Winslow." he said.

"Oh, thank you, but--" Granny began confusedly.

"I can tell you spent a lot of time on it." said the officer.

"Well, yes, I--"

"We have witnesses willing to attest that you sell these scarves for no more than the cost of the yarn..."

"Yes, I just enjoy making--"

"...Severely undercutting the prices of your commercial competitors by an order of magnitude, in spite of the fact that your scarves are obviously superior handcrafted products."

"I... I... well, ... Thank you?" said Granny, still confused, but recognizing the compliment to her handiwork.

"Don't get funny with me, Lady!" the officer snapped, leaning in close to Granny's face. "You should be ashamed of yourself! This sort of underpricing makes me sick! I've come to expect this kind of altruistic bull from hackers and teachers, but I never expected it from a respectable citizen with no criminal record. What is this world coming to?"

"Well, I never!" exclaimed Granny.

"Take her away, boys." said the officer.

Two of the riot police gently handcuffed Granny, and lead her out of the room.

"Send in forensics to bag the evidence." said the officer, dropping the knitting, and wiping his thumb and forefinger on his shirt. He looked around the room, and shook his head sadly. "When will people learn? She acted like she didn't even know it was wrong."

Re:Granny's Knitting (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907539)

Oh, please, shut up.

Almost any company can do this. We do. (5, Insightful)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907461)

Not me personally you understand, but the company I work for. We were having a problem with a lot of our stock (especially seconds) turning up on ebay at sometimes less than 1/3 the SRP. We would also get lumbered with damaged returns that had found their way into the channel. Because our company knows most of the customers personally, we did some digging, whois.sc is your friend, then when the companies selling the cheap/returned goods came to order more stock, there was mysteriously no stock left for them. No stock, nothing to sell, at least non of our stock. However a lot of other people who were not selling too cheaply were just "cautioned" and "its ok as long as the prices are good"

I guess it depends on your organisation, some like ours are big enough to be the one of thebiggest manufacturers of this product but small enough to know every retail customer we deal with, and can therefore control the distribution channels quite effectively.

And before anyone moans that the market should dictate prices etc, bear this in mind. If one of your customers is worth over $60,000,000 a year, and they are working on small margins, retail sites and are getting undercut by some guy flogging stuff in the back of his van/ebay, how long till they turn round and stop selling your product, and therefore you potentially just lost $60 million.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (3, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907533)

Now, here's where I get confused about this. If this company that's selling goods for cheaper is, in fact, buying them from you, isn't that still a sale?

Honestly, this isn't clicking for me. Sounds to me like they'd just be selling it at a loss...

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (2, Informative)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907669)

Well this can happen a number of ways, for example, on a consumer buy 2 get 3rd free for example, the customer probabily doesnt get the free 3rd item (that we gave away, so our margins are lower) or they buy up grey market destined for example, eastern europe, at lower prices. Also if people buy in big quantities, you get large (HUGE) discounts. so if you were to buy 2000 widgets, you would get 1000 widgets for free, so you can sell at a lower price and still make a profit. Then there are people authorised to buy our surplus, for export or similar, but they dump it in the local market, and if they pay 10% of retail, and sell it for 30% of retail, thats a good margin, for just listing them! Obviously as I said, when we find em, we dump em, but gotta find em first.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907775)

so what? you don't have the right in interfer with free enterprise. your handing out freebies then complaining about it? stop doing it if it's a problem.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (1)

shotgunefx (239460) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907591)

I can understand trying to keep a decent margin on a line of products... to a point.

But if someone in a van is selling something 1/3 of SRP and still making a profit, then IMHO, whatever your selling is way overpriced. Especially considering van-guy probably already had his supply stepped on once and is still making money.

The big retailer argument doesn't make much sense to me either. If they are buying millions in product, they're going to be paying much less for product then some guy in a van, so there should be a level of margin protection right there.

Obviously, I'm talking about the cheaps here, not the returns.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (2, Informative)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907707)

The difference is Van guy prolly doesnt declare his income, or have any taxes to pay (we all know this happens on ebay) or more importantly doesnt have a prime retail location to rent, heat and staff.

I can see your point though. Our margin is large. Its the illusion of quality that does it.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907821)

"The difference is Van guy prolly doesnt declare his income, or have any taxes to pay"

again, not an issue your company has any business being involved with.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (1)

wgaryhas (872268) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907619)

As long as the products aren't being stolen to sell at a lower price it doesn't matter if you have $60 million to loose. Adapt your business model (what you did) to stay competitive or loose the money.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907687)

And before anyone moans that the market should dictate prices etc, bear this in mind. If one of your customers is worth over $60,000,000 a year, and they are working on small margins, retail sites and are getting undercut by some guy flogging stuff in the back of his van/ebay, how long till they turn round and stop selling your product, and therefore you potentially just lost $60 million.

That's not our problem. In a true free market, if you're smart enough, you'd figure out how to make the more efficient van/ebay people your new customers. If you're not smart enough, another manufacturer will step in to supply the demand for your type of goods.

Of course, in reality the system is rigged so that it's usually not a free market, so you can probably continue to sit back and rake in your artificially inflated profits.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (2, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907699)

so what? as long as you are selling it at a profit yourself to retail, you aren't losing out.

If retail stores are losing ground to ebay, it's time to rethink how they do business.

"However a lot of other people who were not selling too cheaply were just "cautioned""

Sounds like intimidation and price fixing to me, i'd suggest they stop. the market along with government regulation is the only thing allowed to set prices, anything else is called price rigging.

besides, are you honestly suggesting that some guy selling a few items on ebay, lets say 20 at best, is going to bring down a $60,000,000 retail chain? ebay is a place you can sometimes snag a bargin, not somewhere that replaces a retail store.

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907791)

You don't actually know what price fixing is do you?

Re:Almost any company can do this. We do. (1)

Citius (991975) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907781)

Well, let me pose to you this question:

You, company A, are the manufacturer of some product. You sell to a reseller, Company B. You also sell to a wholesale distributor, Company C.

If I'm not mistaken, you sell the same products at the same prices to both Company B and C; Company C can offer a lower price simply because he gets you to buy more of said product, whereas Company B sells the product at a premium due to lower volume. As a result, you should make the same profit margin regardless of such.

If this thinking is invalid, then all retailers, regardless of who they may be, be they BJs, Costco, and Walmart - are subject to these violations. Couldn't these therefore be extrapolated to being violations if, say, I went out of the country and bought the same product from, say, China at a severely discounted price?

For some odd reason, I forsee more outsourcing as a direct result of this ruling. How does that help us?

IANAL Warning (2, Insightful)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907479)

Is there a lawyer that might add some insight here on the concept of "first sale"? I was under the impression that after purchasing a product that you as the rightful owner of the product reserved the right to sell it any time and at any price.

Re:IANAL Warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907713)

First, the Supreme Court held that vertical price maintenance, in this case minimum allowed pricing, was not anticompetitive per se; instead, the must be judged by a rule of reason. Under the old standard (Dr. Miles), all MAP policies were automatically illegal. Practically, it means that a retailer who feels that the behavior is illegal must proffer evidence that the behavior is anticompetitive. There is not even a presumption towards illegality; the burden of proof is on the petitioner.

As several others have posted, for sellers on eBay, the only individuals that would be directly affected by the ruling are those that are in the direct supply chain. e.g. suppliers, retailers, etc. Thus, the practice of window-shopping at Tweeter and purchasing from an online retailer will be several hampered.

Individual eBay sellers (think, grandma) undercutting MAP should still be preserved, subject to many exceptions, some dependent because of the jurisdiction, others because of licensing requirements. As others have mentioned, some exceptions include the right to use images or the name of the brand in the advertisement. Others include limitations on the warranties, as some warranties can not be transferred, or those explicitly agreed by the first purchasers through EULAs.

Am I to believe that... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907485)

.... if I purchase some products for which I later decide I no longer need and want to sell it so to reduce my losses from it and a company comes in an prevents me from selling such that they then are willing to pay the gigher price and buy it from me?

Don't care about the law.. fuck off! (4, Interesting)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907511)

With all these bullshit patent, copyright, and now 'intellectual property' lawsuits pooping all over the place.. and the greedy lawyers earning their greedy reputations, I predict a new kind of legal letter...

It's called the 'Fuck Off Response.'

See.. it goes like this... Company A sends Person B a cease and decist letter. Person B sends a letter back saying, 'Fuck Off!'

This letter back symbolically represents the hours and hours of time consulting a licensed attorney, paying a licensed attorney tons of undeserved money at exhorbitant prices, that Person B is not afraid of large Company A, and that person B is willing to go through all the trouble to fight the original letter - without all the actual trouble.. just symbolically.

So, in other words.. a huge company with an army of lawyers may only choose to use what I have available to defend myself. If that is only myself and a public attorney, then said company may only use equal or lesser - or otherwise lose by default since company is not stooping low enough to reach me in order to even take a swing.

Little guy (or girl) says 'Fuck off.' (but en masse)

Re:Don't care about the law.. fuck off! (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907577)

I already do that :)

For SPAM, Solicitations et al.

I also send a bill, where practical
for my time taken to respond. I bill
the manufacturer of the product and cite
the email/letter.

Re:Don't care about the law.. fuck off! (5, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907639)

> With all these bullshit patent, copyright, and now 'intellectual property' lawsuits pooping all over the place.. and the greedy
> lawyers earning their greedy reputations, I predict a new kind of legal letter...
> It's called the 'Fuck Off Response.'

There's similar precedent, in the UK at least:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Eye [wikipedia.org]

An unlikely piece of British legal history occurred in the case Arkell v. Pressdram. The plaintiff was the subject of an article relating to illicit payments, and for a change the magazine had ample evidence to back up the article. Arkell's lawyers wrote a letter in which, unusually, they said: "Our client's attitude to damages will depend on the nature of your reply". The response consisted, in part, of the following: "We would be interested to know what your client's attitude to damages would be if the nature of our reply were as follows : Fuck off". This caused a stir in certain quarters. In the years following, the magazine would use this case as a euphemism for an obscene reply: In subsequent cases, instead of using the obscenity, Private Eye (and others) would say something like "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v Pressdram", or perhaps "His reply was similar to that given to the plaintiff in Arkell v. Pressdram ". Like "tired and emotional" this usage has spread far beyond the magazine.

Bwah, ha ha, you have no choice now. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907945)

You realize, don't you, that this gives big dumb companies the ability to shut down their competition? They enter into an exclusive deal with the Chinese factory and then forbid knock offs and all sales below retail price. They can set that retail price just below what you could sell the same thing using US labor, but drop it when required. All of the benefits of China's slave labor will then go to a small group of people. Their lawyers will be bigger than yours, so you will never see justice.

DRM (2, Interesting)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907601)

This could blow a hole in DRM too

You can't interfere in commerce like this.

Companies don't own their product after it's sold to someone.

The /. readers are missing the boat with this one (4, Informative)

Bomarc (306716) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907615)

After reading the comments thus far (about 30), many /. readers don't seem to get this story.
First, this is not about the buyer and the seller, this is about the company that makes the product and the person(s) selling the product new on eBay.
The case has already been to the Supreme Court, and "we" (aka the people) lost, the business have won. The test case was for a first (retail) sale, not an owner of the product trying to resell it. But that issue is being abused as well (again, what the article is trying to say).
Also incase you were wondering -- the decisions were split along party lines: Democratic and Republican representatives. The Republican representatives had the majority. (Yes, I know that the justices are not Democrats or Republicans, but the justices were appointed by them).

ITI vs Colon doesn't make sense (4, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907649)

I don't understand how ITI is trying to sue Colon. Obviously Colon did not buy the products directly from ITI but bought them instead through a distributor. How did the distributor sell the products to Colon and make a profit, while at the same time still allowing him to resell them at less than what ITI says he is allowed to sell them for? It seems to me like ITI should be going after their distributor for breach of contract, not Colon. Or did I misread the article?

Re:ITI vs Colon doesn't make sense (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19908075)

No, you make perfect sense.

What I don't understand is why did Merle not just terminate it's sales to the supplier who sold these to the woman, and then just buy the products from the woman at the reduced price? (Cutting off her supplier, and then buying her inventory) I can't imagine how it wouldn't be cheaper for them. And there's no negative publicity.

And of course they could sue their supplier for breach of contract.

There is a great song by Rage Against the Machine (3, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907667)

Fuck you I won't do what you tell me...

Fuck you I won't do what you tell me...

Fuck you I won't do what you tell me...

Honestly, I am getting so sick and fucking tired of these sort of controls. The perpetual infinite contracts where you have to cancel on the one day a year of renewal or you are hit with either an early termination fee or another term of contract.

It's getting ridiculous....

I've reached a point where I have no respect for copyright. 10 yrs ago things were different. But I'm sick of the price gouging and pseudo-controls. Why are all the stores charging $30 for a USB cable that used to cost $6.95. And that I can still go to Costco and get two + an extension cable for under $8. And they're gold-plated too boot.

The worst part of it, is people are so bloody apathetic these days that when there should be a revolt - there isn't. And so much money is dumped into welfare systems that enable people who don't work to buy HDTV's, cable, DSL, a Lexus, and what not without a care for where the money comes from. That hard working people can't even influence the system by not spending money. Cause we'll simply be taxed and have our money given to someone who will spend it.

*bah*

"Free Mars!!!"

Re:There is a great song by Rage Against the Machi (4, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907853)

> The worst part of it, is people are so bloody apathetic these days that when there should be a revolt - there isn't. And so much
> money is dumped into welfare systems that enable people who don't work to buy HDTV's, cable, DSL, a Lexus, and what not without a
> care for where the money comes from. That hard working people can't even influence the system by not spending money. Cause we'll
> simply be taxed and have our money given to someone who will spend it.

I think you'll find that most people who get welfare aren't spending it on Lexus (Lexii?), HDTVs etc. If you're talking about the US, for example, official records suggest that more than 10% of the population can't afford enough food to support a healthy lifestyle.

Ebay bargains already a thing of the past (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907685)

When I first started using Ebay you could really get a bargain, and that's why I went there. However that was a long time ago. These days you're likely to see used goods sold at 80% or more of the original "brand new" product...sometimes they go for more than brand new which makes me wonder how legit these sales are. The other thing that makes me wonder is how I started getting second chance offers. What put the nail in the coffin for me buying stuff off Ebay though was my dissatisfaction at the handling of a dispute over a very low value item. (About US20). I got broken used goods where the claim was that the goods were "still in shrink wrap". Yeah re-shrinkwrapped. The proof I had to get to get my money back was certainly not worth the $20 and the seller started threatening me with legal action over factual comments I left on his feedback instead of dealing with the issues. So I issued a chargeback on my credit card, I closed my paypal account, and haven't used my Ebay account since. That was sometime last year.

Another time I was very lucky to get a much more expensive pair of items because the seller got the address wrong. Fortunately the goods got to me, but when I questioned the seller over whether the address was obtained from my Ebay account they just got defensive. I'd have been out US350 if those goods hadn't arrived. I've heard much worse horror stories from acquaintances at work but I'm not privy to the details and don't know how true they are.

Also fee increase over the years have made it not worth it to list low value items. So these items don't show up if you're a buyer and if you want to sell them you know you're better off trying to pawn them off to friends.

In short, Ebay isn't what it once was, at least for me. It was once an excellent place to get a bargain or get rid of unwanted goods.

Re:Ebay bargains already a thing of the past (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907847)

Fortunately the goods got to me, but when I questioned the seller over whether the address was obtained from my Ebay account they just got defensive.

I sell a few things on eBay (old Collectibles) and I'll get a customer's address from eBay that doesn't quite match the one from PayPal. This may not apply to you, but I think with some of the old accounts (i.e. before eBay bought PayPal), folks entered two different addresses into each system - maybe because they opened the accounts at different times and entered the addresses differently - I don't know. I always send an email verifying that address: even if both match.

BUT, that doesn't excuse the seller's attitude towards you. That's just plain incompetence on their part.

I can understand their point (3, Insightful)

The Null Repeater (1055874) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907709)

Back before Al Gore invented the internet, I used to work in at a windsurfing store. The biggest competition started to be mail order warehouses that could sell boards cheaper due to less overhead. In the short term, its better for the consumer but in the long term, it kills the sport. People would go to the local store and find out which board they wanted then order it from the warehouse. Local stores couldn't compete and started to close up but these local stores were the ones were creating new customers through lessons, demos, etc. Some manufactures realized this and stop selling to warehouses.

I can understand why Merle Norman Cosmetics doesn't want their products sold on Ebay. If consumers don't buy the product in the stores, then why should the stores carry it. If stores don't carry it, how is the company to find new customers? Online, you can't sample a smell or see its true color. Cheap stuff is great but sometimes its affect on the bigger picture isn't.

Ripped off marketing materials? (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907741)

One of the comments on that blog brought up that the eBay seller might have been stealing the auction contents from the manufacturer's web site, i.e. images, product descriptions, etc. In that case, the legal action seems justified.

Re:Ripped off marketing materials? (1)

Bomarc (306716) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907983)

Actually, this is just an excuse. I had software, and tried to sell it. It was blown off eBay by the manufacturer, as a pirated copy, even though the pictures clearly showed that it was original. (and this was YEARS ago!) The companies want to put a good spin on the money that they might lose, and you bought it; hook line and sinker.

supremecourtus.gove (1)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907745)

Here is a PDF of the ruling issued by SCOTUS [supremecourtus.gov]. The essence is that "retail price maintenance" can have a procompetitive effect, in that it fosters interbrand competition while reducing intrabrand competition. For example, Bose Stereo competes with other brands, and sellers of Bose equipment know they won't be undersold by a different price-cutting franchise. This procompetitive effect was ruled to outweigh the dangers of anticompetitive price-fixing of the sort done by cartels and monopolies.

Both cases mentioned in TFA do point to likely collusion between the wholesale buyer and the auction reseller. It looks as if the wholesalers have indeed tried to circumvent their agreements to maintain fixed retail prices. Nothing to be alarmed about here.

Greedy pro-business =/= capitalism. (1)

Eco-Mono (978899) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907753)

These businesses hide behind the "free market" ideal until they can get away with twisting the market rules to their OWN ends... then, it's "necessary protection". Bah.

&YES! fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19907829)

parties). At THE knows for sure 34at minutes. If that. Gawker At most

A friend of mine owns a spa (2, Insightful)

begbiezen (1081757) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907949)

a day spa. She sells expensive creams. These creams can not be bought anywhere else in the county. (well, one or two other places) It's a day spa. They're not just selling creams, it's a whole package. You get a facial or a waxing or a massage or facial. You hang out for sometimes hours. You learn stuff. Then my friend sells you fancy creams that cost way more than average creams. Are they that much better? I don't know. But one of the reasons they sell is because you can't buy them anywhere else. (in town) My friend makes a significant mark-up on the creams. as she should, considering how much time and effort she has invested in marketing them. The salon and the cream company work together.

Now someone comes along and starts selling them on ebay. How did they get them? Used a salon account i imagine. This person can sell them for a tiny mark-up and still make a profit. That means people can go the salon, learn all about how awesome the cream is, and then go buy it on ebay for half the price. Where does that leave my friend? The cream company told her there was nothing could do to stop the ebay sales, they were working on it. (trying to eliminate the bad distributer) Now they can shut it down officially. And thats good for my friend, and the cream company. We are not talking about people being told they can't sell they're stuff. We are talking about nasty cut-throat business practices. (that should be illegal)

Attorney and Economist: Big Deal (yawn) (4, Informative)

hawk (1151) | more than 6 years ago | (#19907985)

I'm an attorney, and a sometime economics professor. No, this isn't legal advice.

In short: big deal.

The new doctrine (which had been expected for years the next time this came up) applies to a very limited number of producers. It does *not* apply to those with market power.

Previously, the court had held that minimum pricing was always anticompetitive. The new ruling finds that *in itself* it is not *necessarily* anticompetitive. It could still be found to be so, however, based on the facts of the case.

A typical manufacturer will have no reason to try to hold up the prices of its product--it would rather sell more. For a very small set of them, however, the "exclusivity" or perceived quality is actually part of the appeal, and sales could go up.

If, for example, microsoft tried this, it *would* be anticompetitive, as they already had market power. On the other hand, if "Joe's Linux" were to insist that its CDs only be sold for a price of $199 or more, it would not harm the markets. If Chevrolet tried it, sales would plummet. BMW, on the other hand, might be able to make their vehicle more desirable this way--it would fit in with their current high-end service sales campaign. Furthermore, it can be used to insure that distributors *of an upscale product* have sufficient margins for the service level the company wishes to project--Nordstrom's instead of WalMart.

TFA gets it wrong, by the way, in indicating that this is about competitors stifling auctions. It's about manufacturers requiring their vendors to comply with their sales contracts. Assuming that the company is correct that she bought from a licensed dealer, she did this with knowledge of the contract terms. I doubt that it would be much of a stretch of privity to hold her to them in this case. The manufacturer could certainly take here deposition and find out the vendor, and then cut the supply that way. If she really bought them at a flea market, *that* vendor can be forced to reveal the dealer.

The manufacturer thinks that its product is more desirable if sold only through beauticians at high prices. Fine. There are any number of other manufacturers that are happy to sell.

hawk, phd, esq.

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