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LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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I purchased a version of Rosetta Stone on eBay for my wifes

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I purchased a version of Rosetta Stone on eBay for my wife's birthday. She decided she wanted me to sell it and get back the money we paid for it. I re-listed the item back on eBay only to have eBay delete my listing stating that the item was counterfeit. I then had Rosetta Stone contact me through a "cease and desist" voice mail. I immediately stopped trying to sell the Rosetta Stone and I currently still have the item in question. After returning several calls, I finally got in touch with a person from the legal department from Rosetta Stone. He stated that I must pay $1000 for legal fees over a period of 10 months or a one time payment of $800. If I do not pay, then they will pursue other legal avenues because I broke the law. He also stated that the fact that I didn't know I was selling a counterfeit copy doesn't matter. I told him that I couldn't afford the $800 so he then said he would be willing to negotiate the fee to $700. I need help here please. Do I ignore these threats or try to negotiate a smaller fee? I didn't sell anything. Why are they being so aggressive? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you

LegalGems :

Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum.

LegalGems :

I am very sorry to hear of this. It sounds as if you got trapped in the middle of a third party's duplicitous behavior and you are being held accountable for it.

LegalGems :

Generally, liability requires some kind of intent; or else behavior that is so negligent that a reasonable person would know that their negligence could result in criminal or civil charges.

LegalGems :

It is very uncommon for an attorney to demand legal fees from the person they are threatening to prosecute. The fact that they were willing to negotiate the amount makes it all the more suspect.

LegalGems :

However, attorneys are generally required to submit proof of legal fees incurred; it sounds as if that is not the case (for example, if the attorney billed its client $1,000 in his/her effort to seek reimbursement/restitution, and is now asking that the person causing the problem accept liability for it).

LegalGems :

The NC bar association has a complaint process; let me get that information for you.

LegalGems :

First, you may want to inquire with the attorney as to what the charges are for, and ask for an itemized statement. If it still does not seem reasonable, you can lodge a complaint at the link above, and the bar will investigate the matter.

Customer:

Thank you. However, there is no attorney. The person asking for the money is an "Enforcement Specialist" in the legal department at Rosetta Stone.

LegalGems :

An enforcement specialist is charging legal fees? That would violate the state bar's prohibition against a non-attorney charging for legal services.

Customer:

The $1000 fee is to cover legal expenses for Rosetta Stone. This person states that by offering their item for sale on eBay, that I give the perception that other customers can purchase Rosetta Stone for a lower price than their company sells the item at retail price. They also said that they have to pay investigators to find people like me that break the law and sell counterfeit copies.

LegalGems :

It is unclear what the legal expenses are - so that is confusing. Also, I presume you were selling their product for a lower fee because it was used, so it was not the exact same product for the same exact fee that they were selling it for. Also, generally if a person sells an item on the internet, they are not responsible for fees incurred by the originating company in their efforts to track down counterfeiters. This company is quite active in its pursuit of copyright infringers; but again, that generally requires some kind of knowledge/intent/negligence. If a reasonable person could not determine the item was counterfeited (I'm wondering if this company has adequately proven that) then most courts would be reluctant to throw the book at them. If this company thought they had an actual case, they would likely have let the DA handle it, as copyright infringement is a serious issue (versus sending a threatening letter without any evidence).

Customer:

They have a picture of the listing where they say that writings on the box are not consistent with a genuine Rosetta Stone item.

LegalGems :

It may be worthwhile to compare it to a genuine RS box; however, generally if a company has a valid case, they will turn it over to law enforcement to proceed with it, as opposed to offering to settle for $1,000; and then to negotiate it down to a lesser amount. If a corporation is truly concerned with copyright infringement, generally the damages are much more than $1,000, and they would bring a criminal action, followed by a civil action. However, then the burden would be on them to actually PROVE the case; as opposed to simply demanding money.

Customer:

Thank you very much for your help!

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