Online marketplace Snapdeal has removed Nalli sarees from its platform following a cease and desist order from the Chennai-based garment manufacturer, as reported by the Economic Times. Snapdeal confirmed to MediaNama that they have received the order and said that they are taking appropriate actions for the same. Snapdeal’s statement:
Snapdeal.com is an online marketplace which connects buyers and sellers to provide the widest assortment of products. We have received the notice from the company and will take appropriate actions as per law.
Earlier last week Nalli Sarees served the notice for allegedly having its registered trademark Nalli as a search word and copying images from its website for back-grounding an offer on silk sarees. We did a quick search and it seems that Snapdeal has taken down the searches for Nalli on its website.
Nalli Sarees also has its own online store where it sells its own branded products and also alleged that the main picture used as background by Snapdeal on its offers page was copied from its homepage.
It’s worth noting that in May this year, pan-India saree distributor Shree Meena Creations had filed a lawsuit against Flipkart, Amazon and eBay, along with about two dozen sellers on these marketplaces for allegedly selling replicas of its copyrighted sarees. At the time Amazon India and Flipkart had said that they would take strict action against those who were selling counterfeit products.
Other marketplace violations
– Earlier this year Shopclues was slapped with a legal notice from audio devices manufacturer Harman International for selling fake and counterfeit products from various vendors on its website. Harman International, which makes the popular JBL speakers and headphones, found a sizable number of fake products on the website and has asked the e-tailer to withdraw all products and remove any listings of fake JBL branded products as well as blacklist the vendors.
– In the same month, Shopclues ran into trouble again and L’Oreal, Tommy Hilfiger, Skullcandy and RayBan initiated legal actions in the Delhi high court in connection with sale of counterfeit goods.
– There was also an instance last year where Snapdeal delivered pieces of wood when a customer had ordered iPhones. There was another screw up when a customer ordered a Samsung phone but was delivered with a bar of soap.
– Allegedly fake Xiaomi Power Bank were being sold on Amazon India, last year. In fact, verified buyers had written reviews indicating that the product being sold was fake. More on this here.
This brings us back to the question: should online marketplaces (intermediaries) be held accountable for products sold by merchants via their platforms? In India, Section 79 offers safe harbor to intermediaries, as long as they act on complaints and do not knowingly allow the usage of their platform to break the law. So, legally these e-commerce marketplaces seems to be on safe ground, however as we have pointed out earlier there is a need for better understanding of the responsibility, accountability and liability of platforms, marketplaces and aggregators. There’s no doubt that online aggregators and marketplaces are good for consumers and competition. But then who is accountable, when things get screwed up? And what about the liability of these platforms?