Inside track: eBay

By Tim Lince

Since eBay was launched in 1995, it has become a key battleground in the fight against fakes. On its 20th anniversary, director of global intellectual property Amber Leavitt explains the unique challenges of protecting one of the Web’s most iconic marques while positioned at the vanguard of the global anti-counterfeiting effort

It all began with a broken laser pointer. In September 1995 28-year-old software developer Pierre Omidyar wrote the code for AuctionWeb, an online marketplace platform that would soon become known as eBay. As a test, Omidyar put up its first listing, for a broken laser pen; days later, the device sold for $14.83. Surprised at this high prize for what was a fundamentally pointless item, Omidyar asked the winning bidder whether he understood that it did not work. “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers,” came the reply.

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