Monday, February 10, 2014

eBay removing authentic Drew Brees autographs through VeRO?

As reported on Autograph Magazine Live, it appears eBay is removing authentic Drew Brees autographs through the VeRO program. Allegedly, GT Sports Marketing (GTSM) has an exclusive signing contract with Brees and is having any autographs not signed through them removed through the VeRO program.

As a bit of background, Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program is intended for license holders to remove unlicensed material such as counterfeits and bootlegs. As the eBay site indicates, "Any person or company who holds intellectual property rights (such as a copyright, trademark or patent) which may be infringed by listings or items sold on eBay is welcomed to participate in the VeRO Program." For instance, through VeRO, Coach can file a complaint and have knockoff handbags removed. Many bands are active through VeRO in reporting bootlegs for removal.

It is my impression that VeRO was not intended to remove legitimate items that were obtained legally so one seller could monopolize the market. How can Drew Brees, or anyone else, have "intellectual property rights" over the ink in their signature on an item someone else purchased?

It seems to me that when an item is signed -- for free or for a fee -- it becomes your property to do with it as you wish. The signer retains no licensing rights over the item.

Reportedly, Theo Chen of autographsforsale.com is looking for participants who have had legitimate items removed for a class action lawsuit against GTSM.

Stay tuned to see how this plays out.

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