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Tiffany is suing eBay over for fake jewellery offered for sale on the online auction site.

According to the iconic New York jeweller, 73 per cent of the items advertised as Tiffany products on the website are fakes. As such, eBay should be held liable for such trading in counterfeit goods. The filing asks eBay to estimate profits made from such sale or pay Tiffany $1m for each type of fake product offered for sale.

The jeweller says it has talked to eBay for a year about the problem and has two members of staff working full-time on policing the auction site. This has resulted in 19,000 individual auctions being stopped. eBay rules warn against offering fake items and members can be banned for repeat offences.

James Swire, Tiffany's lawyer from Dorsey & Whitney, told CNET: "Since they are making the money from it, the public is being defrauded by it and Tiffany is being damaged by it, the question is who should bear the burden of policing it."

In the past, eBay has defended itself as an innocent middle-man unable to check the provenence of all the thousands of items on the site. The auction site says it already works with trademark and copyright holders to remove dodgy items. It defended itself against a similar claim from watchmaker Rolex in Germany.

eBay has 30 days to respond to the complaint.®

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