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eBay Bargains Soon To Be A Thing Of The Past? 488

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the capitalists-attacking-capitalism dept.
ScaredOfTheMan writes to mention that, as expected, companies are utilizing the decision in Leegin Creative Leater Products v. PSKS to force the take-down of auctions on eBay because auctions are priced too low or even stating the auction itself is an infringement of their intellectual property rights.
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eBay Bargains Soon To Be A Thing Of The Past?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:51PM (#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.
  • Fair Use? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheBearBear (1103771) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:53PM (#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.
  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:56PM (#19907359)
    Seeing that ink prices are likely to surge (again) ...
  • First Sale Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grahammm (9083) * <graham@gmurray.org.uk> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @04:58PM (#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?
  • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:02PM (#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.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:03PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:04PM (#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.

  • by Stu101 (1031686) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:05PM (#19907461) Homepage
    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.
  • IANAL Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fishthegeek (943099) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:07PM (#19907479) Journal
    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.
  • by Rufty (37223) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:21PM (#19907627) Homepage
    How quaint. Right of fist sale's going the way of right to privacy.
  • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:23PM (#19907649) Journal
    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?
  • by Bombula (670389) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:23PM (#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.

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:24PM (#19907667) Homepage
    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!!!"
  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:25PM (#19907685) Journal
    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.
  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:27PM (#19907705) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by The Null Repeater (1055874) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:28PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:30PM (#19907723)
    Driving online retailers out of business is not "staying competitive." It is destroying competition.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:35PM (#19907773) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:Fair Use? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:40PM (#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.
  • by Threni (635302) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:40PM (#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.
  • by begbiezen (1081757) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:47PM (#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)
  • 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.
  • suicide as crime (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @05:57PM (#19908051) Journal
    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
  • by packeteer (566398) <packeteer.subdimension@com> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:01PM (#19908087)
    You bring up some good related points but this case is still 100% clear to me. Take the example of the women selling cosmetics from TFA. If she is telling the truth and gets the items from a flea market they could be stolen or fake but that is not what the company is worried about. They are pursuing the ebay seller because they suspect that she bought the cosmetics from a salon which has an agreement to only sell in the salon they run. Therefor the salon is breaking the agreement with the cosmetics company. That would be a clearcut case of them breaking the agreement if that is what is going on, nobody would defend the salon in breaking that agreement.

    The problem here that is 100% clear cut to me is that the cosmetics company is not going after the salon. The company is going after a 3rd party who MAYBE bought the cosmetics from the salon. They say that the ebay selling is breaking an agreement between 2 parties, neither of which are her. How could she possibly be responsible for an agreement that she didn't agree to? If she did get the cosmetics from the salon (which she denies) she has bought something from them and owns it. She is not responsible to uphold an agreement she did not have anything to do with.

    What i see going on here is this; a cosmetic company is seeing the BATSHIT FUCKING CRAZY logic that companies are using to defend their intellectual property. They want in on some of the action and are calling their TANGIBLE GOODS an intellectual property. I know that they REALLY REALLY want to be in the market of selling intellectual property because it allows them to make all sorts of ridiculous claims in court but it just isn't the reality for them. They are selling tangible goods in the strictest definition and should not get away with this crap.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:11PM (#19908163) Journal
    I'm sure the companies are arguing (and perhaps not without merit) that first sale applies only to the end user or the consumer. If you purchase with intent to resell, that makes you a retailer or distributor and thus subject to different rules. There is some merit to this point of view. Consider that resellers, retailers and distributors are required by law to follow certain processes, laws and regulations. Among these are verious health regulations for the food industry.

    Let's say that Evil Corp Foods sells their food product to Massive Grocery. Laws dictate that in order for Massive Grocery to leagaly sell ECF's product, it must be sold within 30 days of being recieved at an MG location. Day 29 arrives, MG marks down some of it's ECF stock to sell off and at least make some profit on. Joe Freedom buys it. It sits on his shelf for a few days, at which point he realizes he didn't really need it, but a friend does, so he sells it to his friend, at a hair more than he paid, but less than MG sells it for. So far so good, everyone wins.

    But let's say that Joe Freedom's friend gets sick from the food product. Currently, it was a rotten thing for Joe Freedom to do to his friend, but not illegal and certainly (most likely) not intentional.

    But let's now say that Joe Freedom is doing this every week. Buying the dicounted food product from MG and turning arround and selling it at a profit to people in his neighborhood and on craigslist. Now more people are getting sick. Not all of them, only some, but say it's still something like 10% or 20%. Shouldn't Joe Freedom be subject to the same health regulations that MG and ECF are? Don't you think that ECF might have an interest (and a valid one) in shutting Joe Freedom down since it's their product, money and their reputation on the line (even though they didn't sell it to the people that got sick)?

    In a world where a company is responsible for the stupidity of people that buy their products, does it not suprise you that companies have a vested interest in tighly controling their supply line?

    This is not as black and white as it seems at first glance, and certainly there is no easy answer, but just like any other freedom, first sale is not and can not be absolute.
  • by HiredMan (5546) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:11PM (#19908167) Journal
    Now someone comes along and starts selling them on ebay. [] This person can sell them for a tiny mark-up and still make a profit. [] Now they can shut it down officially. [] We are talking about nasty cut-throat business practices. (that should be illegal)

    I'm unclear... which are you saying should be illegal? Because I could make a case for either one from the above statements.

    Company makes product and inflates it 2000% but protects that margin by promising exclusive dealerships for which dealers pay big bucks, pass on huge mark-ups and and mark products even further. They protect this channel by driving out of business anyone who tries to sell it at less than 3000% mark-up. Sounds cut-throat to me...

    Just sayin'
  • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:15PM (#19908211)
    I agree with you on everything except the following:

    People do not understand quality because they refuse to become educated enough to make a decision based on quality.

    While some people do actually refuse to become educated enough, many more have neither the means nor the time to do so. If every time a person needs to replace an expensive item, they need to get halfway to being an expert, they'll have time for absolutely nothing else in their lives. That's why friends and family come to me for help when buying computers, and it's why I call my Dad when I'm getting ready to buy a car. The problem is, not everybody has a friend or a Dad to help make decisions on the big ticket items they need. What is needed is some consolidated and reliable (IE, not supported by companies trying to separate you from your money) source of information for non-experts to turn to.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:20PM (#19908267) Journal
    He just said they stop doing it. They just stop selling to one distributor. Seems much more efficient than stopping the whole program
  • So? you totally overlook the real world implications.
    Manufactures can send notices to any retailer and tell them that everyone has violated the contract. Effectively shutting out the used market.

    You don't think publishers would love to shut down used book stores?
    Since no 1 publisher controls the market it is not anticompetitive, but all of the publishers could enforce it. Meaning used book store owners would need to be able to afford a very lengthy legal process to fight this.

    "It's about manufacturers requiring their vendors to comply with their sales contracts."

    Sales contracts that had unenforceable clauses, apparently.
    This is about manufactures to have more control over sales contracts.

    It's a unnecessary stifling of the free market.

  • by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:26PM (#19908321)
    Where does that leave my friend?

    Charging for the service instead of overpriced garbage? God, are people so unimaginative that they can't imagine charging an accurate price for a real service or on the customer side actually paying someone for a service instead of a "product"? What about people who are smart enough to go spend a couple hours in the day spa and *not* buy the stupid creams? Don't they leave your friend in the exact same position?
  • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:39PM (#19908449) Journal
    >So? you totally overlook the real world implications.

    No, though you created implications that don't exist :)

    >Manufactures can send notices to any retailer and tell them that everyone has
    >violated the contract. Effectively shutting out the used market.

    Absolutely not. Nothing the Supreme Court or I said suggests such a thing. This is about the new market; the manufacture can't reach the used market under the SC decision.

    >You don't think publishers would love to shut down used book stores?

    Sure, they'd love it.

    >Since no 1 publisher controls the market it is not anticompetitive, but all of the publishers could enforce it.

    No, they couldn't. Absolutely nothing has happened to the first sale doctrine for a good faith buyer. This is *only* about the path to the first sale.

    Also, if the publishers did try together, *that* would be an illegal use of market power, a cartel, and a couple of other things.

    >Meaning used book store owners would need to be able to afford a very lengthy legal process to fight this.

    No. The *only* way in which it could even come up is if the seller was buying a price-restricted book from a dealer and then selling it as new.

    >"It's about manufacturers requiring their vendors to comply with their sales contracts."

    >Sales contracts that had unenforceable clauses, apparently.

    Unenforceable as in "the contract was breached."

    >This is about manufactures to have more control over sales contracts.

    Their own sales to the distribution chain, yes.

    Still, though, for the overwhelming majority of products, such an act would be *undesirable* from the manufacturer's perspective.

    >It's a unnecessary stifling of the free market.

    No, it actually allows more possibilities in the free market. Note that *most* of those that will try to increase prices this way will take serious losses; there are very few products (mostly high end luxury goods) for which profits increase for doing this.

    hawk, esq.
  • by MoneyT (548795) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:52PM (#19908571) Journal
    [quote]can you state a clear logical reason why not?
    Once I buy it, I should be able to do whatever I want to with that product.[/quote]

    I thought I just did, or do you believe that Joe Freedom should be allowed to continue unimpeded? It was no pity play, it was a very specific senario to display the purposes of the laws in place. Intent to resell does have an effect on your ability to resell, and it's that way for a specific reason. Just because in this instance it doesn't agree with your politics doesn't mean it's not valid or that it shouldn't be considered. It's a complex issue and saying that "I bought it, it's mine and I can do whatever the fuck I want with it and resell it to whomever and however I want" is a simple blanket statement that has the potential to have very determental effects on the market as you know it.
  • by Christian Anarchist (1065384) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @06:58PM (#19908613)
    Sorry, hawk, but I must respectfully disagree.

    (And I've both practiced law and the teaching of economics, too.)

    I'll take your word on the letter of the law -- I don't practice anymore and even when I did "competition" law wasn't my main shtick. But, whatever the letter might be, _interpretation_ of the law is not an equal opportunity endeavor.

    The problem is that litigants don't come to the bar with the same bankroll. When the law requires a court to interpret it (by figuring out which piece of the law is fit by the facts, etc.), the advantage goes to the rich Mary Kay and her pink cadillacs. They can afford to push things through court, deal with the delays, vendors (E-bay) not dealing with you, etc etc in the meantime. The evil little salon can't.

    Depend on the courts to define what constitutes competitive behavior and what constitutes naughtiness not to be allowed is like requiring the pit bull to be the one to prove Michael Vick is guilty of conspiracy to electrocute.

    After all, a pit bull owner is not necessarily an abuser of his dog.

    Oh yes, and mine isn't legal advice either.

    JD, 1983, PhD, 1999
  • by nuzak (959558) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:04PM (#19908679) Journal
    > True competition drives profit margins down to subsistence levels.

    Nonsense. The market price tends to settle at a price point, where the demand is not affected sufficiently by further price moves to result in an increase in profit. This is greater than the marginal cost -- otherwise there wasn't a point in being in the business in the first place. There's a disincentive to lower prices beyond that except as a zero-sum game with the competition, and there are a lot more incentives than just price that motivate customers. No one would be buying $600 phones if that wasn't the case.

    Even a competitive market kept competitive by antitrust regulation is going to boil down to a few major players though. I don't think that can necessarily be called an oligopoly or a cartel though.

  • It is not about selling a COMPARABLE product cheaper, it is about selling the SAME product cheaper.

    Example: HP cannot set Dell's prices, but HP might want to make sure that nobody sells their HP computer too cheap.

    I think that one reason this is a problem is the typical example of going to Best Buy or Comp-USA to look at a product, but then going to Newegg to purchase. Newegg has much lower overhead, better selection, etc. But I don't think that anybody wants all brick-n-mortar stores to go under. Can you imagine a world with no stores?

    I am not saying that this decision is right, or even a good idea. I am just pointing out what the manufacturers can & can't do.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:27PM (#19908865)
    I thought I just did, or do you believe that Joe Freedom should be allowed to continue unimpeded?

    Joe is selling something past its expiration date knowing full well that it is making people sick. He should be shut down, but not for reselling. He should be shut down for assault with a biological weapon. The company that initially sold it may be unhappy, but they shouldn't be involved in shutting him down at all. So yes, he should be allowed by the manufacturer to continue unimpeded. But the retailer and government should shut him down.

    It's a complex issue and saying that "I bought it, it's mine and I can do whatever the fuck I want with it and resell it to whomever and however I want" is a simple blanket statement that has the potential to have very detrimental effects on the market as you know it.

    I disagree. You should be able to do whatever you want with what you bought. That won't affect the market at all. A few companies may have isolated cases of resales they don't like, but the market as a whole wouldn't notice. It really is a simple issue. Do you own what you buy, or are you indebted to the makers of all you paid for but don't own? I prefer owning what I pay for and would take that with no restrictions over any system that steals my rights to protect corporations.
  • eBay sucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:32PM (#19908919)
    eBay used to be neat. Now it is just a gaggle of businesses selling crap! The real value and "neat factor" of eBay was buying people's used stuff, person to person. eBay made a grave mistake by creating these stores and allowing businesses to use them. Personally I do not ebay anymore. They charge the seller to much and it doesn't protect the users ONLY itself. They don't care about manufacturers either. I used to ebay a lot; I'm also going to pressure my wife away from it as well. Too many rights violations; it is not wise to make a living from eBay. You could be shut down tomorrow for any reason with no other alternative. People need to quit being lazy and cheap and just build their own online presence.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @07:53PM (#19909075) Homepage
    Nonetheless, the law respects caveat emptor, buyer beware, meaning it is the buyer's responsibility to learn about what he is buying. Short of fraud (see: pig in a poke), it is unreasonable to rely on the seller to provide an objective opinion.

    Most people have experienced this when selling their cars. You will probably feel morally obligated to point out any big problems, (or maybe not), but you almost definitely won't go into details over every nick, scratch, problem with the seat moving, etc., because you don't want to talk the potential buyer out of the sale. It's a conflict of interest. Moreover, any semi-reasonable buyer should be aware of this conflict, and should expect that he will have to give the merchandise a thorough evaluation by himself (or with a trusted agent) before purchasing. Anyone who believes otherwise is naive.
  • by ApharmdB (572578) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:29PM (#19909357)
    The cosmetic company is definitely going after the wrong party. And it is doing it the expensive, complicated way. The company should just hire a P.I. to tail the lady running the ebay auctions. When they find out which salon the lady is buying her product from the cosmetic company can just cancel their contract with them or sue them directly. The P.I. has got to be cheaper than a bunch of lawyers.
  • by StarvingSE (875139) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:52PM (#19909499)
    It's fair in that the price is closer to the fair market price, not what a person is willing to pay for it. I'm not saying the system is perfect, because it is most certainly not.
  • by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:08PM (#19909597)

    Try to find a manufacturer making a profit anywhere outside of China ... they only make a profit there by expoiting their workers

    The Chinese workers aren't making as much as First World workers make, but they aren't being exploited. Sure the pay isn't as good but then again the cost of living is a lot lower too. Chinese who are employed in one of these factories make more than those who can't get a job at one, and if they can't get one it's because they aren't looking or trying hard enough to get work. Or they live in the wrong place. There is a real estate boom in China because workers there can afford to buy homes. And more and more are buying and driving cars. Heck, an American can move to China and live like a king by teaching ESL [transitionsabroad.com], English as a Second Language. This is because many, many Chinese want to learn English.

    or despoiling the environment.

    Pollution and despoiling the environment has been a problem however there is an active Chinese environmental movement in China and the Chinese authorities are becoming aware of just how important it is to cut down and stop pollution:

    New rules to curb "rampant" violations of pollution laws [xinhuanet.com]
    HEFEI, July 12 (Xinhua) -- China's environment chief on Thursday unveiled a set of tough new rules to tackle worsening lake pollution while lambasting the country's "bumpkin policies" that encouraged local officials to turn a blind eye to environmental hazards.

    The regulations follow findings showing "rampant" violation of environment rules by almost nine in ten of the country's industrial parks and two fifths of companies.

    Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said the new rules covering China's three major lake areas -- the eastern Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the southwestern Dianchi Lake -- included:

    -- A ban on all projects involving discharges containing ammonia and phosphorus, and the turning down of existing applications to establish such projects.

    -- A ban on the production, use and sales of detergents containing phosphorous around the lake drainage areas.

    -- The removal of all fish farms from the three lake areas by the end of 2008.

    -- A ban on fishponds, vegetable and flower farms that may involve the use of fertilizers within one kilometer of the lakeside.

    Zhou outlined the measures at a special meeting on lake pollution in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province.

    In the last two months, blue-green algae outbreaks have been reported in the three lake areas, endangering domestic water supplies. On July 4, water supplies to 200,000 people in Shuyang County, Jiangsu Province, were halted for more than 40 hours after ammonia and nitrogen were found in a local river.

    "Environmental problems, if improperly handled, can trigger major social crises, and improving water quality has become our most urgent task," Zhou told environment officials.

    He said illegal activities that harmed the environment were "rampant".

    SEPA investigations showed 87.3 percent of the 126 industrial parks in 11 provinces had violated environment rules, allowing environmentally harmful companies into their parks.

    They also showed half of the 75 wastewater-processing factories failed to properly process water or were not operating at all. Of 529 companies that SEPA inspected, 44.2 percent were violating environment rules.

    "Hazards are everywhere, and environmental accidents are very likely to happen," he said.

    Some local officials often relied on companies for GDP contribution and their own promotions, and failed in their responsibil

  • by karmatic (776420) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:36PM (#19909797)
    How is this for a thought?

    Salon has agreement to sell in-store only, not online.
    eBay seller walks into store, buys products, sells online.

    Who is breaking any contracts? The salon in this case has upheld their end of the bargain.
  • by grimwell (141031) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:55AM (#19911013)

    The Chinese workers aren't making as much as First World workers make, but they aren't being exploited.


    Whoa, there big guy. Not sure what rock you have been living under but reports & documentaries of exploited Chinese factory workers have been around for a while. Think sweatshops of turn-of-the-20th-century America but nastier and on a larger scale.

    A quick google turns up 1.1 million links [google.com] for the phrase "chinese exploited workers"

    Go take a gander at Frontline's Is Wal-Mart good for America [pbs.org] video. If I'm remembering right there is a bit in there about the Chinese factories and their workers.

    Chinese who are employed in one of these factories make more than those who can't get a job at one

    That doesn't mean they aren't being exploited. Work & safety conditions play a large part. Ask a coal miner.
  • by Smauler (915644) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:57AM (#19911021)

    But then what if everyone bids high so they win, thinking they'll pay a much lower second price?

    In that case, the buyers are morons. Seriously, if you can't understand that someone might try to do the same thing as you do, you really are stupid.

    Not allowing a bidding war will also mean a reduced price for the seller.

    So your first point claims people will pay too much, the second claims people will pay too little. Bidding wars do not necessarily raise prices across the board. Some people start a bidding war, then drop out assuming the opposition is too determined. With blind bids, people will bid the amount they are willing to pay.

    People who are wanting to buy but don't know the market price or value of the product will not be able to bid.

    Come on - if you don't know the rough market value of an item, you shouldn't be bidding on it at all. Anyway, this system protects people who wildly overbid to some degree - you only pay the second highest bid.

    A secret ballot means you don't know you're out of the bidding until it's too late to find another auction, so all the losers in the auction are severely inconvenienced.

    I think this is the only really valid point here. However, it's not all that important depending on the auction. Many different timeframes can be used with this style of auction.

    No, I'm afraid this Vickrey method is full of flaws.

    I'm so glad we've got you to point them all out. You've convinced me....

  • by mutterc (828335) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @09:39AM (#19914151)

    This doesn't jibe with economic theory as I understand it.

    The 200 zorkmids that go to the retailer don't just get stuck in a vault or buried under a mattress. They get invested in the business, or paid back to shareholders. The vendors the company buys stuff from, or the shareholders, then spend that money, etc. Eventually this trickes down to everybody. (Perhaps the CEO hires the consumer to clean his private jet, for a direct example).

    Don't believe me? Make a post sometime complaining about concentration of wealth. Someone will come out of the woodwork and say the exact same thing I said above, only with "rich people" substituted for "the retailer".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2007 @10:00AM (#19914451)

    I don't know where you have been, but 'some Russian mp3 site' is still accessible, if you know how.
    Are you sure ? Or do you mean that that site has had to change its name to get around the blocking and has subsequently disappeared with its new name too ?

    This is the point of the internet now - open access to the properly informed
    I'm afraid that you mistake "properly informed" with the calls of a dealer mentioning at which street-corner he will be tonight --- if you are there at the right time that is.

    Besides, you may have the means to get the goods, but your means to *pay* for it are still in control of the banks who, without any due process, deny you to do with your money what you want.

    How come you think you(/we !) are not still under their control, and thus not really able to get "the RIGHT price" ?

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