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Trademe and copyright, trademark infringement

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jun-2006 17:58

What's the problem with Fairfax on-line properties these days? Just hot after my rant of Stuff not giving credits to other on-line publications (What's the problem with Stuff?), I found myself mad at Trademe, the largest auction site in New Zealand, bought a few months back by Fairfax on a deal worth NZ$700+ million dollars.

The whole thing started when a Geekzone forum member pointed to a Telecom NZ Apache Pocket PC auction going on Trademe, using images taken from our on-line review. What really ticked me off is that the seller was showing one screenshot of an Incoming Call announcement dialog, with my photograph, name and the word "Geekzone".

Trademe and copyright, trademark infringement

Clearly there's reason to believe this image came from our site. I mean, just look at the second picture and you will see my name, company and photograph.

So I asked the seller to remove the images. And this was the reply:

Hi, do you mean the brown ones? Or the blue ones? I am a member of Geekzone. Sure, if it offends you that I've used photos publicly placed on geek zone which specify no copyright I can respect your wish to remove them despite any evidence to support this. Let me know which ones. :o)


What?

"Photos publicly placed" on a website doesn't mean no copyright. All pages on Geekzone have a copyright and trademark (Geekzone is a registered trademark) notice that covers the whole content. And then continue with "despite any evidence to support this"?

I asked this person to remove all pictures, but of course the pictures were still there a couple of days after...

I tried contacting Trademe to have this listing removed. The only way is through e-mail, and it can take up to "48 hours". And guess what? No reply at all from Trademe.

I then used the "Community Watch: report this listing" feature, which I believed would be an emergency hotline link to someone on Trademe that could take actions in case of illegal use of someone else's property. What a joke. Besides not having a confirmation that my request was received, and not having a reply from Trademe (again), nothing was done.

So, should I get a Cease and Desist letter sent to Trademe? Are they simply ignoring anyone that could be between the company and the auction's success fee?

I met a few people involved with Trademe before, and I believe they probably don't have anything to do with the current state of affairs on that company. They're good people.

Crap service.

UPDATE 1: A friend commented to me something about everyone using someone else's images on the Internet. I agree, it's really hard to control. But my main rant here is on Trademe not taking action after being notified. I hope this clarifies a bit my stance.

UPDATE 2: Would it be different if the auction had a link to the original review? Yes, of course. But the seller did not offer to update the auction and the service does not offer a way to easily link to other sites.

UPDATE 3: Something I just thought: perhaps Trademe is in need of an ombudsman?

FINAL UPDATE: Just checked the auction and the images, plus the Q&A with the seller are gone. Some think this could be turned into an opportunity to drive people to Geekzone to look at the review - and this is my point on Update 2. It must be easier for Trademe to allow people to link to reviews or articles about the goods on sale there.









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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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