EBay was struck a blow today as the European Court of Justice ruled that online marketplaces cannot shirk responsibility for counterfeit goods sold on their sites.

The ruling means that brand owners may be able to initiate legal proceedings against online marketplaces if they if they have knowledge of, or control over, counterfeit goods sold through their sites.

Brands such as L’Oréal, which has been embroiled in legal rows with eBay over the sale of counterfeit goods, will welcome the news, according to Kirsten Gilbert, partner at intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk Solicitors.

She said: “Trade mark owners are no longer alone in their fight for online brand protection. Instead, as is the case on the High Street, companies which facilitate sales can be held accountable for the goods which pass through their hands.”

Stefan Krawczyk, senior director and counsel government relations for eBay Europe, said the judgment provides clarity on certain issues.

He added: “As a marketplace, eBay provides a level playing field for all online sellers and will continue building constructive partnerships to expand the range of brands being sold on eBay.”