Mon, May. 24, 2004

Auction Sellers Anticipate Appeals Ruling

JN - Wellington.   Tomorrow, arguments before the Frankfurt am Main Court of Appeals, Oberlandesgericht, are expected to affect eBay's German subsidiary significantly. Plaintiff, a bookseller, sued an eBay powerseller for violation of the Price Control on Books Act, Buchpreisbindungsgesetz. The statute lets publishers fix a price for books which, with few exceptions, booksellers must respect. The trial court found the defendant to have auctioned large stocks of books at prices starting at 1 Euro, in violation of the statute. Therefore, it ordered the defendant to desist from such auctions.

The defendant appealed. A dismissal would imply that such auchtioneers are deemed commercial traders as defined by the Commercial Code , Handelsgesetzbuch, which requires them to publish their name, corporate form and tax identification number, see Nebel, Clarifying the Corporate Form in Germany. EBay may need to revise, therefore, its policies and no longer permit powersellers to act anonymously. The ruling may affect the tobacco industry because the sale of cigarettes is also subject to price controls.

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