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Hey, you're in the hobby / travel zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

ebay Selling Online Category

Hobby / Travel:

Some legal considerations, what you need to know to avoid violating the law and protect your rights and interests.


As you figure out what you will be selling and how you will be selling your items on eBay, in addition to making sure that the items you intend to sell are not already prohibited, be sure you understand and come to operate your eBay sales business generally in accordance with these general legal considerations:  1) Observe and protect intellectual property rights; 2) Establish and follow reasonable, fair sales terms; and 3) Come to take extra precautions as a seller, and make this a business practice.  These considerations are more fully explained below.

1) Intellectual Property Right Considerations

Stay clear of any intellectual property right infringement violations, and that you take the necessary steps to protect your own rights, including any intellectual rights.

Of the possible intellectual property right infringement violations that could land you in legal trouble, not to mention cost you the ability to sell on eBay, is your selling of bootleg/pirated copies of a DVD movie or music album.  Make sure the item you intend to sell was received by you in a legitimate fashion--that you did not buy it off of someone from a dark alley in New York City or elsewhere that would immediately cause any reasonable person to question the legitimacy of the merchandise in their hands.  If you have in your hands a music CD with songs that have yet to be publicly released, chances are the music CD is a bootleg/pirated copy, and it should not be listed for sale on eBay.  Use sound, reasonable judgment, in short, to dictate your actions as a seller on eBay.

eBay has a system in place to attempt to combat such infringement violations, including through the sophisticated operation of its Verified Rights Owner program, also known as VeRO.  This program enables owners of intellectual works to register their works with eBay in order to permit such owners the ability to systematically report to eBay and have removed by it illegal copies of such works found to be listed for sale on eBay.

If you come to sell an illegal copy of an intellectual work, aside from the possible ramification of being banned from selling on eBay in the future, you will receive an emailed notice as a result of the function of VeRO, informing you of the infringement violation.  Likewise, speaking of VeRO, during the course of establishing your eBay business, should you come to inherently create your own works--such as pictures of your products for the purpose of advertisement, etc.--you may opt to register such works with VeRO to enjoy its benefits.

Overall, do not use the trademarks of other companies as if they are your own.  Doing so would be just as serious as possessing a bootleg/pirated copy of an intellectual work.

When you use part of the intellectual work of someone with their permission, do give that person or entity the proper public disclosure credit they deserve, doing so if not for the purpose of common courtesy then for the purpose of staving off others from immediately coming to the misassumption that you are illegally using such a work, which could prompt an unnecessary filing of an infringement violation report against you.

Remember to insert a copyright notice attached with your name for you own wholly created works (e.g., a picture of a product you post online for advertisement purposes of the product, itself). Also, as may be applicable, place a trademark sign (tm) near any of your own wholly created business names and/or slogans, and even, at your discretion, go ahead and have such registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

2) Establishment of Reasonable and Fair Sales Terms

One of the surest reads of your online sale is that of your sales terms policy.  So, with that in mind, such a written policy should not come to discourage potential customers form buying your products, it should be written to be clear, forthright and incite an upbeat mood as much as possible, letting your potential customers feel that they are buying something great from you, a great eBay seller.  What is meant by this is that your sales terms policy should encompass as much information as is reasonable, all calculated to fulfill the inquiring needs of potential customers and to satisfy their review of your online business in order for it to pass as a legitimate online business.

Such a sales terms policy, in general, should include information on the variety and respective costs of packaging, handling and shipping of your listed sales items, and the return policy of any of such items.  Many successful eBay sellers make it a policy of providing the exact shipping cost up front by enabling the buyer to input their zip code into a shipping calculator to determine the cost of shipping--using one of several available shipping methods--the item they are interested in purchasing.  This beats having to provide an unpopular flat-rate shipping cost for all items, since such a rate is often inflated in light of the fact that all items purchased do not all weigh the same--some weigh far less than others--and their respective destination distances are hardly ever similar.  So, yes, providing a customized shipping rate for a particular sales item for shipment to a particular destination will cause the potential customer to feel that they are not being overcharged for any of the shipping costs, etc.

In addition to the above, as you compose your sales terms policy, make every effort to disclose as much as possible, since the quickest way to go about getting a negative feedback from a customer is causing them to be surprised about a particular aspect of your sales terms policy after the transaction of a sale.

With that said, your sales terms policy--in addition to being posted in the Sell Your Item form, as mandated by eBay--should be reposted within the description space of each item you have listed for sale.


3) Take Extra Precautions as the Cost of Doing Business: Get Confirmation and Insurance

Like it or not, there are a lot of scamming buyers.  In an effort to curb your chances of falling victim to those who seek to get a "free ride on  your dime," make it a policy of obtaining delivery confirmation and insurance for every item you sell and have shipped--such confirmation and insurance are usually only for a nominal fee.  With delivery confirmation, you will be able to discourage those from attempting to scam your online business as you will be enable to receive independent confirmation of whether a sold item has arrived at its intended destination.  So, with that in place, the chance of receiving a fraudulent claim from a customer of not receiving a sold item would more likely be zero than without such independent confirmation, and for those claims of actual and legitimate shipment delivery failures, the insurance purchased for a nominal fee will be there to legally save you from having to incur the full monetary loss of such a shipment delivery failure.

Return to eBay Selling Online Category Menu: Basic Ideas, Tips, Tricks and Strategies

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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