EBay has survived a four-year legal wrangle with Tiffany over the jeweller’s claim that the online auction site should be held liable for the sale of counterfeit jewellery on its site.

A New York judge ruled that eBay could not be held responsible for policing the contents of its site and that Tiffany should alert eBay if fake jewellery was being sold on its site.

The ruling will be greeted with relief by eBay, which is facing a number of similar court cases. Observers suggested that the crackdown on online fraud would force eBay to make changes to its business model.

Two weeks ago, eBay was ordered to pay €40 million (£31.9 million) in damages to luxury goods retailer LVMH after allowing the sale of counterfeit goods on its site.

In a written ruling, US district judge Richard Sullivan said: “Tiffany must ultimately bear the burden of protecting its trademark.”

He added: “Policymakers may yet decide that the laws as it stands are inadequate to protect rights owners in light of the increasing scope of internet commerce and the concomitant rise in potential trademark infringement.”

An eBay spokeswoman said: “The ruling confirms that eBay acted reasonably and has appropriate procedures in place to effectively address counterfeiting. It also establishes that protecting brands and trademarks is the primary responsibility of rights owners.”