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October 20 2011

Commerce Weekly: Google juices its Wallet

Here's what caught my eye in the commerce space this week.

Google pairs payment with coupons in one tap

Google WalletGoogle expanded its Wallet this week. At some retailers — American Eagle Outfitters, The Container Store, Foot Locker, Guess, Jamba Juice, Macy's, OfficeMax and Toys“R”Us — the lucky few Sprint customers who have Google Wallet can pay for purchases, redeem coupons and earn rewards points with just one tap.

Google showed off a video (below) of its employees at these stores, demonstrating Google Wallet to lots of very excited people. Of course, as is clear on the video, Google is paying for their purchases as part of the demo, so that may have something to do with the enthusiasm.

Google also announced a deal with the New Jersey Transit Agency to enable Google Wallet purchases through some busses, vending machines and ticket booths. Stephanie Tilenius, Google's vice president of commerce, said "Transit has been a common element of every major successful NFC effort globally and is a critical component of Google Wallet's success." Isis, which is likely to become one of Google Wallet's main competitors when it begins showing up on phones sometime next year, feels the same way. Last spring Isis announced that one of its first trials will be with Salt Lake City's Utah Transit Authority.

Announcements like this may come and go like streetcars, but the real shift will come when more NFC-capable phones are available on more carriers. Currently, only Sprint subscribers holding Nexus S 4G phones can tap and pay with Google Wallet. HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility, RIM, Samsung Mobile and Sony Ericsson announced en masse last month that they would introduce NFC-enabled mobile devices that implement Isis's NFC and technology standards, presumably sometime in 2012. But it will still take time before secure NFC phones are mainstream. Even so, Juniper Research is bullish on the uptake curve, predicting that NFC mobile contactless payments will reach nearly $50 billion globally by 2014.

X.commerce harnesses the technologies of eBay, PayPal and Magento to create the first end-to-end multi-channel commerce technology platform. Our vision is to enable merchants of every size, service providers and developers to thrive in a marketplace where in-store, online, mobile and social selling are all mission critical to business success. Learn more at

PayPal powers eBay's results

EBay reported strong growth this week through its commerce channels. Fueled by PayPal and mobile payments, Q3 revenue was 32% greater than last year ($2.97 billion compared to $2.25 billion in 2010). In a conference call with analysts, CEO John Donahoe said the company expects PayPal's payment volume to exceed $3.5 billion in 2011, five times greater than it was in 2010. At last week's Innovate conference in San Francisco, the company showed off plans to bring PayPal to the physical point of sale. Donahoe said the company will begin rolling those payment systems, which don't rely on NFC but rather pay through the cloud or with direct-billing technology, as soon as the fourth quarter.

Also this week, Donahoe discussed eBay, PayPal and the future of payment at Web 2.0 Summit. Video from his Q&A session is below:

Got news?

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

If you're interested in learning more about the commerce space, check out PayPal DevZone on X.commerce, a collaboration between O'Reilly and PayPal.


October 14 2011

Commerce Weekly: PayPal wants to "one click" across the web

Here's what caught my eye in the commerce space this week.

PayPal enters the single sign-on space

PayPal AccessAt its Innovate developer conference in San Francisco this week, eBay announced PayPal Access, a single sign-on technology that functions like OpenID, Facebook Connect, and other proxy identity mechanisms. But it comes with a twist: PayPal Access enables transactions.

As with other single sign-ons, PayPal holds the master record of the user's identity information, sharing only enough with the third-party sites to guarantee identity. If Facebook Connect makes it easier to share your web activity on your Facebook feed, the main benefits of PayPal Access appear to be simplicity (you don't have to re-enter credit card or even PayPal information at each site) and security (as with PayPal, you're not sharing any payment information with the merchant).

The ambition behind PayPal Access is sweeping: eBay wants to deliver a web-wide experience comparable to Amazon's one-click shopping. PayPal Access attempts to do this by integrating with browser functionality so that customers can see they're already signed on. A PayPal purchase can be made without leaving the site.

There are obviously huge challenges here for eBay. First among those is bringing a critical mass of merchants into the tent so that PayPal's 97 million active users can rely on Access as an acceptable payment choice. Second will be the inevitable spoofing that goes on under PayPal's name. How many emails from a "PayPal" source do you get in an average month? How many are really from PayPal? I would expect that never-ending struggle to continue at the browser level.

At the Innovate Conference, PayPal showed off some other neat stuff, too, including a Shopping Showcase that revealed how the company will use some of the technologies it's been acquiring this year. For example, using Where's technology, PayPal wants people to check into stores before they arrive, not after. This lets merchants show discounts or special offers. If it's a frequent destination — your regular coffee shop or grocery store, for example — the wallet will show the merchant your previous purchases or shopping list so they can offer discounts on those or related items.

Zong's direct-billing technology, which eBay bought this summer, will enable a service called Empty Hand. Don't have your wallet or your phone? Key in your mobile number and a pin on the retailer's point-of-sale console and you can access your PayPal account to complete the purchase.

PayPal is also planning to offer new financing options. Currently, you can link multiple payment sources to your PayPal account (for example, checking account, Visa card, and AmEx) or you can use PayPal's BillMeLater service. Soon, you'll be able to change your mind after the fact. Wish you'd put that dinner on your miles card? Log on the next morning and switch the source. You can even decide to change from a full purchase to a payment plan, freeing up more cash to ... buy more things with PayPal.

As noted above, one of the challenges PayPal/eBay faces is bringing more retailers into its system. Toward that end, PayPal is taking its Shopping Showcase on the road to show what's possible. Next stop: a pop-up store in TriBeCa that aims to stimulate interest among trendsetters and the retailers they buy from.

X.commerce harnesses the technologies of eBay, PayPal and Magento to create the first end-to-end multi-channel commerce technology platform. Our vision is to enable merchants of every size, service providers and developers to thrive in a marketplace where in-store, online, mobile and social selling are all mission critical to business success. Learn more at

Tracking down Bitcoin's developer

BitcoinThis week's New Yorker magazine features a report by Joshua Davis on Bitcoin, the virtual currency launched in January 2009 by the pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto.

Bitcoin's program has distributed more than 7 million bitcoins through a lottery process. Value rises and falls with perceived demand, reaching a high around $29 last June, though it's down below $5 now.

For the New Yorker piece, Davis visited a Bitcoin mining operation tucked into a warehouse in Kentucky and a Howard Johnson's motel near Disneyland that accepts Bitcoin for payment. The hotel manager was excited to meet Davis because he was "... the first customer who's ever paid with Bitcoin."

The article traces Davis' attempts to uncover Nakamoto's real identity. Internet security expert Dan Kaminsky outlined some of the skills Nakamoto must have: "He's a world-class programmer, with a deep understanding of the C++ programming language ... He understands economics, cryptography, and peer-to-peer networking." Davis also noted that Nakamoto has impeccable English skills and tends to write in UK style rather than American style when in a hurry.

Davis narrowed the field of likely suspects and eventually settled on Michael Clear, a post-graduate student at Trinity College Dublin, who — at least in the New Yorker report — offered a non-denial denial.

After the story broke, Clear issued a much more unequivocal denial: "Although I am flattered that [the New Yorker] had reason to think I could be Satoshi, I am certainly the wrong person," he said. Whether he is or isn't, he has good reason to dispel the notion. As Davis noted, the U.S. government has a record of prosecuting people who create alternative currencies.

Got news?

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

If you're interested in learning more about the commerce space, check out PayPal DevZone on X.commerce, a collaboration between O'Reilly and PayPal.


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October 06 2011

Commerce Weekly: How Steve Jobs changed the way we buy

We're changing the name of this blog from ePayments Week to Commerce Weekly to better reflect the wider scope of our coverage — not just payment, but communication and transaction technologies along the entire commercial value chain.

With that in mind, here's what caught my eye this week.

Steve Jobs' commercial legacy

First generation iPodIt's difficult to write about anything else today, with the entire tech and creative universe mourning the loss of an uncompromising genius. Much has already been published about the ways that Steve Jobs changed how we work and interact with computers. Less has been written about how he changed the way we shop and buy. Here are three thoughts on that.

The iPod and the iTunes store. As Jobs said before introducing the iPhone in 2007, the iPod "didn't just change the way we listen to music. It changed the entire music industry." Its pairing with the iTunes store actually went further, creating the first simple, sustainable platform for purchasing and downloading all kinds of digital media, including TV shows, movies, books, college lectures, and more. As of June 2011, iTunes had 225 million accounts, and through them more than 15 billion songs have been sold, making it the world's number one music store. Apple extended the model to software with the App Store, which has distributed more than 14 billion apps in three years.

The iPhone and in-app purchases. Although there were smart phones before the introduction of the iPhone in January 2007, finding and installing new applications for them wasn't easy. The iPhone changed that, making it simple to download and install new apps and opening the landscape for mobile app developers. By doing so, it broadened the opportunity for consumers to make purchases inside mobile apps. In-app purchases have helped make the freemium model (free to install, paid for with subsequent purchases inside the application) the dominant one for mobile apps, on iOS and other mobile platforms.

Apple Store in New York City
The Apple Store at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York City. Via Fletcher6, Wikimedia Commons.

The Apple Store. Apple opened its first physical retail stores in 2001, just as other computer makers were closing theirs. But Apple's innovations — cutting-edge architectural design, the Genius Bar, iPhone and iPad checkout — made their stores a destination for Apple fans and the curious alike. Ten years on, Apple has 357 stores across the world.

Even all this was a small part of Jobs' legacy. I'd like to think the best part of what he gave us — even better than all the cool toys — was a shining, successful example of what's possible when you don't compromise your vision. He demonstrated to two generations of creative geeks what's possible when you commit yourself to making a thing work the way it really should. That's a rare feat in a world where too many things don't.

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eBay CEO: We won't compete with our customers

Ahead of eBay's Innovate conference, Robert Scoble talked with eBay's chief executive John Donahoe about the changes underway in retail, mobile, and social commerce. Donahoe predicted that rapidly evolving technology will drive "more changes in the way consumers pay and shop in the next three years than we've seen in the last 15 to 20."

Scoble has posted the interview on YouTube (it's also embedded below). Among the highlights:

  • Donahoe positioned eBay's commerce ecosystem as a merchant-friendly alternative to Amazon: "We provide all the tools to help third-party developers create businesses for merchants, and we will never compete with [merchants]."
  • There are 500,000 developers working with Magento (the open-source ecommerce platform that eBay purchased earlier this year) and, according to Forrester, that work has generated more than $1 billion in revenue for them.
  • Mobile is a big opportunity because "people don't want to enter a credit card number into a mobile device. It's cumbersome," and they don't believe it's secure.
  • Katie Mitic, who leads Facebook's platform and marketing efforts, is joining eBay's board. Donahoe positioned this as a significant gesture as eBay tries to work with Facebook to figure out the social shopping connection.
  • eBay is increasingly global: of the $60 billion in volume last year on eBay, 55% came from the U.S. and 45% happened outside the U.S. What's more, 20% of eBay's transactions cross borders. "So, $5 billion worth of goods was exported out of the U.S. on eBay."
  • eBay will remain platform- and operating-system agnostic. "We've lost the hubris of thinking we're going to decide for them. Our consumers will tell us where we need to go."

There were a few notable gaps where Donahoe was honest about not having the answers.

  • On China: Although some Chinese sellers use eBay and PayPal for transactions with customers outside of the country, foreign companies can't tap the enormous market in transactions within the country. He expects PayPal to partner with a Chinese bank or other financial service in the next few years.
  • On social commerce: While eBay is beginning to see elements of social entering the shopping experience, there's still no clarity on what the social shopping experience means. Is it Facebook coming to eBay, or eBay merchandise selling through Facebook (or both)?

Got news?

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

If you're interested in learning more about the commerce space, check out PayPal X DevZone, a collaboration between O'Reilly and PayPal.

iPod Photo via Wikimedia Commons.


Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

September 20 2011

Fancy some of Newcastle's civic sculpture? Try eBay

Council makes a bob or two by flogging off the Lego Men whose associated fountain squirted shoppers once too often. The Guardian Northerner's arts correspondent Alan Sykes reports.

Most of us will have know the problem of how to get rid of an unwanted possession, and lots of people are using online auction sites as the solution.

In Newcastle City Council's case, the unwanted possession is a series of 44 six foot high stylised human figures made of re-enforced concrete and pebbledash weighing half a ton each, and they've decided to flog them off on ebay.

The figures, dubbed locally the "Lego Men", were part of an artwork by Ray Smith that stood next to Newcastle's Haymarket metro station between 1999 and 2008. Erected at a cost of £270,000, the works, officially called "Shoulder to Shoulder", stand near to the hexagonal Boer War memorial obelisk with its bronze statue of Nike as Winged Victory (although in 1978 her wings were replaced with fibreglass after being damaged by lightening). They acted as an effective barrier between the pedestrianised area round the metro station and a very busy road junction. Unfortunately the water feature of the work did not react well to squally weather, occasionally giving unsuspecting passers-by an unwelcome soaking. In 2008 they were removed (at a cost of a further £70,000) and stored on a piece of wasteland near the city centre.

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle, not a fan of the sculpture, was recently given one of the figures and, after a competition, handed it over to Laura Taylor, who plans to paint it in Newcastle United's black and white and Alan Shearer's number 9 and stick it in her garden in Chester-le-Street.

Putting Newcastle United football colours on artworks is not new in these parts – some time ago the people behind Viz magazine somehow managed to winch a giant black & white shirt onto the torso of the Angel of the North.

Meanwhile, the first figure made £1254 on ebay when all the bids finished last week, up from its original start of 99p, and substantially more than the council was expecting. There are now four more figures up for sale – two pairs and two singles – with the auctions ending at midday on September 23rd. The proceeds from the sale will go to the Newcastle Fund, which gives money to local voluntary groups. Newcastle City Council leader Coun Nick Forbes comments:

Whilst it is unrealistic to expect us to recoup our original investment, all previous options involved a cost to the council so it's good to see as much money as possible being raised for good causes across our city.

Get bidding now!

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August 03 2011

Neue Widerrufsbelehrung ab 04.08.2011

Vor einigen Wochen hatte ich bereits darüber berichtet, dass Onlinehändler ihre Widerrufsbelehrungen erneut ändern sollten. Das Gesetz zur Anpassung der Vorschriften über den Wertersatz bei Widerruf von Fernabsatzverträgen und über verbundene Verträge, durch das u.a. eine geänderte Musterwiderrufsbelehrung eingeführt wird, wurde am 03.08.2011 im Bundesgesetzblatt verkündet und tritt deshalb am 04.08.2011 in Kraft.

Die Verwendung der neuen gesetzlichen Musterwiderrufsbelehrung ist zwar nicht zwingend gesetzlich vorgeschrieben, wer wettbewerbsrechtliche Abmahnungen vermeiden will, sollte sie allerdings tunlichst benutzen. Das Gesetz sieht insoweit eine dreimonatige Übergangsfrist für die Anpassung vor.

July 27 2011

Unwirksamer Gewährleistungsausschluss bei eBay

Aus Berlin kommt eine aktuelle Entscheidung, die für eBay-Händler und eBay-Verkäufer – speziell wenn gebrauchte Ware veräußert wird – von großer Bedeutung ist.

Das Kammergericht hat mit Urteil vom 17.06.2011 (Az.: 7 U 179/10) entschieden, dass sich ein eBay-Verkäufer nicht auf einen Gewährleistungsausschluss berufen kann, wenn er im Rahmen der Artikelbeschreibung auf eine bestimmte Beschaffenheit der Kaufsache hingewiesen hat. Denn diese Beschaffenheitsangabe wird nach Ansicht des Gerichts Grundlage des Vertrags und stellt damit eine Beschaffenheitsvereinbarung im Sinne von § 434 Abs. 1 S. 1 BGB dar.

Die Artikelbeschreibung stellt also, wenn sie die Beschaffenheit des Kaufgegenstandes beschreibt, keine bloße unverbindliche Werbeaussage dar, sondern vielmehr eine rechtsverbindliche Erklärung, an die der Verkäufer gebunden ist.

Im konkreten Fall hat das KG bei einem Fahrzeug sowohl die Aussage “scheckheftgepflegt” als auch die Bezeichnung einer Änderung der Motorisierung als “professionell” sowie die Behauptung des Einbaus einer “qualitativ hochwertigen Autogasanlage” als Beschaffenheitszusage bewertet.

Der Käufer war deshalb berechtigt, wegen Fehlens einer vertraglich vereinbarten Beschaffenheit des Kaufgegenstandes vom Vertrag zurückzutreten.

July 14 2011

ePayments Week: Contactless payment (and zombie survival tactics)

Here's what caught my attention in the payment space this week.

PayPal demos tap-to-pay

PayPal demonstrated peer-to-peer payments using near-field communications (NFC) at this week's MobileBeat conference. They showed how two mobile users could send payment to each other by tapping phones and confirming the transactions in the PayPal app. Laura Chambers, PayPal's senior director of PayPal Mobile, wrote in a blog post that they expect to make the service available publicly later this summer. Right now, however, there's only one NFC-capable mobile phone in the U.S. market — the Nexus S — so both the payer and the receiver would need to have that device.

A PayPal video (below) shows the recipient initiating the transaction, requesting $10 and then holding her Nexus S up to someone else's. Both phones buzz and vibrate, and the recipient gets a request, which they can confirm. Both get an email confirming the transaction.

In practice, PayPal's system doesn't seem too different from what's already possible with Bump, an app that lets mobile users share images or music, or send money from one phone to another — although Bump sends the transaction over the network rather than via NFC. Bump says its app has been downloaded more than 40 million times on Android and iOS platforms, but it still lacks the reach of PayPal with is 94 million users. What's more, by launching its NFC capabilities now, PayPal will already have experience under its belt as more NFC-capable phones (and point-of-sale terminals) begin to appear later this year and next.

NFC tap-and-pay wasn't the only gesture PayPal made this week to show it's getting ready for the future. CEO Scott Thompson put out the challenge for five Bay Area employees of PayPal to try to live their lives for a week with only PayPal purchases, and apparently they've found five willing to give it a try. It'll be interesting to see how they secure necessities like food and gasoline (not to mention rent or utilities, if those are due that week). But that experience may serve them well if PayPal's other publicity stunt of the week transpires: the company produced a funny video that suggests PayPal's one-tap payment system could prove useful during a zombie attack. (The short video is worth watching not just for laughs but also to see PayPal's vision of how one-touch user clicks will be enabled on everything from soda machines to rental car windows.)

eBay buys Zong

In other eBay/PayPal news, eBay continued its acquisition trend, announcing it would pay $240 million for Zong, one of the leaders in direct billing via mobile phone accounts. Zong, Boku, and Bill2Mobile all offer services that let subscribers buy digital goods — often something in an online game — by entering their mobile number online and replying to an SMS text; the charge shows up on their cell phone bill. At times, these services have touted their capabilities as a form of banking for the "unbanked," though in practice many of the unbanked are social game players who are too young to have bank accounts.

Zong brings along its direct billing relationships with 250 telecom carriers around the world, and it's easy to imagine that users will be able to put PayPal payments on their cell phone bills. A spokeswoman for eBay, Sarah Lasky, told me the converse is already true in some countries such as Malaysia where, through a deal with telco Maxis, customers can use PayPal to pay their mobile phone bills.

Back in April, Zong competitor Boku announced a trial with Germany's Telefonica 02 to pay for online purchases of real-world (that is, non-digital) goods. Lasky said there are no plans so far to use Zong this way over at PayPal.

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The three types of social commerce

Oodle CEO Craig Donato has posted an interesting short essay on social commerce on ReadWriteWeb. Donato breaks social commerce into three elements: social shopping, social marketing, social trading. Social shopping is nothing new, of course. Shoppers have always traveled in pairs or groups and shared opinions about purchases. But as commerce has shifted online over the past 15 years, the social aspect is now racing to catch up. Social marketing can be seen as merchants wanting to join this conversation. Donato points out that, here too, this is a restoration of a traditional two-way conversation that has only become a one-way marketing monologue in the era of mass communications. Social media offers a return to the days when buyers had a direct voice to the merchants, one that helps them decide what and how to sell.

Trading, Donato points out, is the weakest area right now — a hyperlocal activity that's often managed through donations or trading goods with neighbors (sometimes with an assist from online services like Neighbor Goods or Freecycle). While there may still be opportunity here, it's clearly the most difficult to monetize, given the very nature of these money-less transactions.

Oodle, the world's largest aggregator of online classifieds, also powers Facebook Marketplace, which figures prominently in a new report from JWT on "The Rise of Social Commerce." Perhaps not surprisingly, the report finds the Millennial generation driving social commerce, especially on Facebook where "they spend so much time ... they might as well shop there, too." The report says Millennials are more interested in conducting commerce through Facebook than Boomers or Gen Xers but, paradoxically, Millennials are also more concerned about privacy issues, particularly when Facebook shares information with third parties. Even so, 59% of Millennials in the survey say they appreciate personalized recommendations that help them cut through the volumes of marketing information. Now, if merchants could only find a way to offer personalized recommendations without knowing much about you, they'd really be on to something.

Got news?

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

If you're interested in learning more about the payment development space, check out PayPal X DevZone, a collaboration between O'Reilly and PayPal.


July 12 2011

EuGH verschärft Haftung von Online-Marktplätzen

In einer Entscheidung vom heutigen Tag (Az.: C-324/09) stellt, der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) fest, dass sich eBay nicht auf das Haftungsprivileg des Art. 14 der E-Commerce-Richtlinie – entspricht § 10 TMG – berufen kann, wenn das Unternehmen Hilfestellungen geleistet hat, die u. a. darin bestehen, die Präsentation von Verkaufsangeboten zu optimieren oder diese Angebote zu bewerben. Ob eBay derartige Hilfestellung leistet, muss laut EuGH allerdings wiederum das nationale Gericht klären.

Der EuGH geht zunächst davon aus, dass sich ein Online-Marktplatz grundsätzlich auf die Haftungsprivilegierung für das Hosting (Art. 14 ECRL) berufen kann, wenn er sich darauf beschränkt, seinen Dienst mittels rein technischer und automatischer Verarbeitung der von seinen Kunden eingegebenen Daten neutral zu erbringen. Sobald er eine aktive Rolle spielt, die ihm eine Kenntnis dieser Daten oder eine Kontrolle über sie verschaffen konnte, soll er allerdings uneingeschränkt haften.

Hat der Betreiber des Online-Marktplatzes keine solche aktive Rolle gespielt und fällt die Erbringung seines Dienstes folglich in den Anwendungsbereich von Art. 14 Abs. 1 der Richtlinie 2000/31, kann er sich hinsichtlich von Schadensersatzansprüchen, gleichwohl nicht auf die Ausnahme von der Verantwortlichkeit berufen, wenn er sich Tatsachen oder Umständen bewusst war, auf deren Grundlage ein sorgfältiger Wirtschaftsteilnehmer die Rechtswidrigkeit der fraglichen Verkaufsangebote hätte feststellen müssen und er anschließend nicht unverzüglich tätig geworden ist.

Außerdem hat der EuGH noch ausgesprochen, dass es zum effektiven Schutz des geistigen Eigentums notwendig ist, dass die nationalen Gerichte dem Anbieter eines Onlinedienstes Maßnahmen aufgeben können, die nicht nur zur Beendigung der konkreten Verletzung führen, sondern auch wirksam zur Vorbeugung gegen erneute Verletzungen beitragen.

Dies schränkt der EuGH sogleich allerdings wieder ein. Solche vorbeugenden Maßnahmen dürfen nämlich nicht darin bestehen, den Diensteanbieter zu verpflichten, aktiv alle Angaben seiner Kunden zu überwachen, um jeder künftigen Verletzung von Rechten des geistigen Eigentums vorzubeugen. Eine solche allgemeine Überwachungspflicht wäre nach Ansicht des EuGH auch nicht mit Art. 3 der Richtlinie 2004/48 zu vereinbaren, wonach die Maßnahmen im Sinne dieser Richtlinie gerecht und verhältnismäßig sein müssen und nicht übermäßig kostspielig sein dürfen.

Als zumutbare Maßnahmen sieht es der EuGH insbesondere an, den Rechtsverletzter von der Benutzung der Plattform asuzuschließen, um eine erneute Verletzung derselben Marken durch denselben Händler zu verhindern. Außerdem hält es der EuGH für zumutbar, dem Betreiber eines Online-Marktplatzes aufzugeben, Maßnahmen zu ergreifen, die die Identifizierung seiner als Verkäufer auftretenden Kunden erleichtern.

Die Entscheidung erscheint auf den ersten Blick spektakulärer als sie ist. Für das Geschäftsmodell von eBay könnte dies allerdings dennoch bedeuten, dass eBay nicht wie ein (passiver) Hoster privilegiert ist, sondern als aktiver Marktteilnehmer unbeschränkt haftet.

June 07 2011

BGH zum Missbrauch eines eBay-Kontos

Der mit Spannung erwartete Volltext der Entscheidung des BGH (Urteil vom 11.05.2011, Az.: VIII ZR 289/09) zur Frage einer vertraglichen Verpflichtung im Falle einer missbräuchlichen Nutzung eines eBay-Kontos liegt nun vor. Über das Urteil hatte ich bereits berichtet.

Interessant an der Entscheidung ist, dass der BGH im Falle einer einmaligen missbräuchlichen Nutzung durch einen Ehegatten auch dann noch keine vertragliche Verpflichtung des Account-Iinhabers annimmt, wenn die Zugangsdaten nicht vor Zugriff geschützt verwahrt worden sind. Begründet wird dies primär mit der Erwägung, dass eine sog. Anscheinsvollmacht nur dann in Betracht kommt, wenn das Verhalten des Handelnden von einer gewissen Dauer und Häufigkeit ist.

Für den Bereich des Urheber- und Markenrechts hat der BGH, allerdings der I. Senat, dies anders entschieden und eine deliktische Haftung sowohl des Inhabers eines eBay-Accounts, als auch des Betreibers eines W-LAN-Routers bejaht. An dieser Stelle vermeidet der VIII. Senat es allerdings dem I. Senat zu widersprechen, sondern verweist darauf, dass im Deliktsrecht der Schutz absoluter Rechte Vorrang vor den Interessen des Schädigers genießen würde. Das bedeutet andererseits allerdings, dass man, sofern ein gewisser Rechtsschein gesetzt wird, deutlich schneller einer deliktische Haftung ausgesetzt ist als einer vertraglichen.

Interessant – wenngleich nicht unbedingt für Juristen – ist auch die Aussage des BGH, dass die von eBay gestellte und von jedem registrierten Nutzer akzeptierte Formularklausel, wonach Mitglieder grundsätzlich für sämtliche Aktivitäten haften, die unter Verwendung ihres Mitgliedskontos vorgenommen werden, keine Haftung des Kontoinhabers gegenüber den Auktionsteilnehmern begründet.

May 18 2011

Der Wochenrückblick: Ebay, Zensus, Urheberrecht

+++ EGMR: Keine Verständigungspflicht vor Veröffentlichung privater Informationen+++ BGH: Bei unbefugter Ebay-Kontonutzung kein Vertragsschluss


May 11 2011

Keine vertragliche Verpflichtung bei Missbrauch eines eBay-Kontos

Der VIII. Zivilsenat des Bundesgerichtshof hat heute (Urteil vom 11. Mai 2011, Az.: VIII ZR 289/09) entschieden, unter welchen Voraussetzungen der Inhaber eines eBay-Mitgliedskontos vertraglich für Erklärungen haftet, die ein Dritter unter unbefugter Verwendung des Accounts abgegeben hat.

Der Bundesgerichtshofs führt zunächst aus, dass auch bei Internet-Geschäften die Regeln des Stellvertretungsrechts anwendbar sind, wenn durch die Nutzung eines fremden Namens beim Geschäftspartner der Anschein erweckt wird, es solle mit dem Namensträger ein Geschäft abgeschlossen werden. Erklärungen, die unter dem Namen eines anderen abgegeben worden sind, verpflichten den Namensträger daher nur, wenn sie in Ausübung einer bestehenden Vertretungsmacht erfolgen oder vom Namensträger nachträglich genehmigt worden sind oder wenn die Grundsätze über die Duldungs- oder die Anscheinsvollmacht eingreifen.

Allein die unsorgfältige Verwahrung der Kontaktdaten eines eBay-Mitgliedskontos führt nach Ansicht des BGH noch nicht dazu, dass der Inhaber des Kontos sich die von einem Dritten unter unbefugter Verwendung dieses Kontos abgegebenen Erklärungen zurechnen lassen muss. Eine Zurechnung fremder Erklärungen an den Kontoinhaber ergibt sich auch nicht aus § 2 Ziffer 9 der Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen von eBay. Da diese Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen jeweils nur zwischen eBay und dem Inhaber des Mitgliedskontos vereinbart sind, haben sie keine unmittelbare Geltung zwischen dem Anbieter und dem Bieter. Ausgehend davon war nach Ansicht des BGH zwischen den Parteien im konkreten Fall kein Kaufvertrag zustande gekommen.

Die Frage einer deliktischen Haftung des Inhabers eines eBay-Accounts für die missbräuchliche Nutzung seines Kontos hat der I. Senat des BGH vor zwei Jahren anders entschieden (Urteil vom 11.03.2009, Az.: I ZR 114/06 – Halzband). Danach haftet der Inhaber eines eBay-Kontos für Schutzrechtsverletzungen und Wettbewerbsverstöße, die über sein Konto begangen wurden, als Täter. Der Grund für die Haftung besteht nach Ansicht des I. Senats in der vom Account-Inhaber geschaffenen Gefahr, dass  für den Verkehr Unklarheiten darüber entstehen können, welche Person unter dem betreffenden  Mitgliedskonto bei eBay gehandelt hat.

Beide Urteile widersprechen sich nicht unmittelbar, da es in dem einen Fall um die deliktische Haftung und in dem anderen Fall um die Begründung einer vertraglichen Verpflichtung geht. Nachdem der I. Senat allerdings ganz ausdrücklich mit einer Rechtsscheinshaftung argumentiert, ergibt sich m.E. dennoch ein Wertungswiderspruch. Denn die Annahme eines Rechtsscheins durch den I. Senat hätte man dann konsequenterweise auch zur Begründung einer sog. Anscheinsvollmacht heranziehen müssen. Ich bin gespannt, ob sich die Urteilsgründe der aktuellen Entscheidung mit der Halzband-Entscheidung des I. Senats (kritisch) auseinandersetzen werden.

May 05 2011

ePayments Week: Report says developers chill on Android

Here are some of the payment stories that caught my eye this week.

Report: Android developer momentum stalls

Android illustrationEven as more consumers are craving an Android phone, developer interest in the platform has stalled — for now. First, the consumer angle: When Nielsen surveyed smart phone subscribers last summer, it found one third of them craving an iPhone, 26% with their eye on an Android device, and 13% sticking with Blackberry. Nielsen asked again during the first quarter of 2011 and found interest in Android had grown to 31%, just edging past iPhone's 30%. Blackberry dipped to 11%.

We can speculate on the causes for consumers' fickleness. Last summer, the iPhone 4 had just been released (in June) so Apple's marketing machine was in full swing. In the dog days of summer, nothing demonstrated early adopter-tude more than swapping the beveled edges of the iPhone 3 for the boxier look of an iPhone 4. By the fourth quarter, enthusiasm around Apple's smartphone had settled down while several handset makers (HCL, Samsung) and carriers were promoting new Android phones. At year's end, Android had the steepest curve on smartphone growth and was second only to Symbian in global market share.

So why has enthusiasm for Android dampened for developers in the months since? Surely they're not all swooning over the charms of the white iPhone.

Here's a more rational explanation: A report released by developer platform Appcelerator and market research firm IDC says "developer momentum is shifting back toward Apple as fragmentation and tepid interest in current Android tablets chip away at Google's recent momentum gains." The Appcelerator-IDC Q2 2011 Mobile Developer Report also noted a minor shift down at the lower end of the pack, with Windows 7 inching ahead of RIM Blackberry — no doubt because of Nokia's new alliance with Microsoft. But even so, it said that "nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that it is not possible for Microsoft, RIM, HP, and Nokia to reverse momentum relative to Apple and Google."

Perhaps surprisingly, the waning interest isn't driven by money — at least not directly. As Jason Ankeny notes on Fierce Mobile, the report found that only 19% of developers thought they could make more money with iOS. I'm not sure why only 1 in 5 think that, since iOS users seem to be a more lucrative market. Research from IHS iSuppli predicts that Apple's App Store will continue to account for about three-fourths of the market in mobile apps, even as the size of the pie grows from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $8.3 billion in 2014. ISuppli's release includes predictions on the other numbers (and they're nicely summarized by John Paczkowski on All Things D.)

Facebook Credits get noticed

Interest in Facebook Credits is rising, sparked partly by the launch of Facebook Deals and the news that members can use Facebook Credits to purchase the deals — in effect, using Credits as virtual currency to buy real-world goods. A Wall Street Journal report speculating about the IPO value of Facebook talks mostly about its growing dominance in online ads (in the first quarter of this year 31% of all online display ads were served on Facebook) but also cited Credits as a yet-to-be-exploited opportunity. And an article in the Chicago Tribune cites an upcoming report from Social Times Pro that estimates that $600 million will pass through Facebook Credits in the 12-month period that starts in July 2011.

In the midst of all this speculation, Jesse Stanchak, an editor with Smart Brief, has an interesting read on the future of Facebook Credits seen from the perspective that it is a form of scrip. Scrip, Stanchak writes, tends to work under any of three conditions: when money is scarce, when users think they're getting a better deal by using the scrip, and when the retailer controls the distribution mechanism. Facebook, Stanchak writes, aims to do all three.

Another eBay/PayPal acquisition at the register

PayPal made yet another acquisition that signaled the online payment service's desire to extend its service into the physical space. Back in March, PayPal parent company eBay said it would buy GSI Commerce, which supplies e-commerce services to retail stores. Then in April eBay purchased Where, a mobile app for finding local deals. Now, in a deal that appears to bridge the gap between these two services, PayPal is paying an undisclosed sum for Fig Card. The Boston-based startup (which launched just last year) offers a $5 USB dongle that lets merchants accept SMS text or NFC wireless payments. A Fig video (below) is light on details, but it demonstrates the service, which runs a little like Starbucks' mobile app except that it doesn't rely on a bar code scan and it transmits an image of the customer to the merchant for an added bit of security.

Here's the Fig demo video:

Got news?

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

If you're interested in learning more about the payment development space, check out PayPal X DevZone, a collaboration between O'Reilly and PayPal.


March 31 2011

ePayments Week: PayPal in brick-and-mortar territory

Here are a couple of items in the payment space that caught my eye this week.

EBay's retail play

GSI CommerceEBay said on Monday that it will pay $2.4 billion for GSI Commerce, which supplies e-commerce services to more than 180 retail brands. The acquisition moves eBay closer to the retail space, and some news reports saw it as a move to compete with Amazon.

The GSI deal wouldn't turn EBay into that kind of a super mall, but it would strengthen PayPal as the payment method for a whole new crop of online and offline retailers. The latter seemed to be the real point of the purchase, according to Frank Hayes at Storefront Backtalk, who described how the deal could help eBay move PayPal into brick-and-mortar stores. It's not clear yet exactly how that would work: perhaps through mobile phones and a point-of-sale terminal near the register, or eBay could have something else in mind. But, as Hayes points out, even if lower payment fees can convince merchants to adopt PayPal as a payment method in physical stores, eBay will still have to explain to customers (who are perfectly happy swiping plastic) how and why they should use PayPal.

Where 2.0: 2011, being held April 19-21 in Santa Clara, Calif., will explore the intersection of location technologies and trends in software development, business strategies, and marketing.

Save 25% on registration with the code WHR11RAD

Google's VP for platform on where all this is headed

Osama BedierWhat will the future of mobile commerce look like? If we do it right, it will look a lot like a nostalgic past, said Osama Bedier, Google's new vice president for platform, mobile and new ventures. Bedier, who described his vision at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco this week, said the goal of all this technology should be to get us back to a shopping experience that's more local, more personal, and a blend of digital and physical.

Ideally, that would deliver an experience as personal as the one Bedier gets when he returns to his favorite mom-and-pop store in his hometown in Egypt. "I walk in, Ali greets me by name ... That makes me feel good." Ali can recommend items that he knows Bedier or his father likes, and if he doesn't have something in stock he can recommend nearby merchants who may have it. Best of all, if Bedier forgets his wallet, Ali puts it on a tab. "Why would I buy anywhere else? This is the kind of experience we used to get."

The rise of big box stores took a lot of that personal touch away, but technology may be able to bring it back — or at least create an automatic system that mimics that personalization. Bedier, who earlier this year left a similar position at PayPal, sees these changes coming soon:

The Internet has come a long way, we've made a lot of progress. But in commerce, it feels like nothing has really happened. We're about where we were 15 years ago ... Over the next couple of years, though, we're about to see some major change.

Bedier's full Web 2.0 Expo keynote is available in the following video:

NFC round-up

Bloomberg Businessweek reported on rumors that Windows 7 mobile phones will support NFC beginning later this year. Their write-up quotes a Gartner prediction that mobile payments could ring up $245 billion in 2014, up from $32 billion in 2010.

Google Android phones are clearly in the lead on the technology, having pushed out support for NFC late last year, a move supported by the launch of the Nexus S handset. While banks and credit card companies continue to run tests on NFC, VentureBeat quoted a senior Sybase executive, Marty Beard, who criticized the “obsession with NFC,” saying it hadn’t been adequately tested yet. That view may have caused Apple to slow down its plans to implement NFC, a feature that had been predicted for inclusion in the iPhone 5 this summer but which (according to rumors) Apple may hold off on while standards are sorted out.

Got news?

News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.

If you're interested in learning more about the payment development space, check out PayPal X DevZone, a collaboration between O'Reilly and PayPal.


March 14 2011

Der Wochenrückblick: Rapidshare, Schwellenländer-Studie, EU-Patent

Rapidshare muss für Urheberrechtsverletzungen von Nutzern haften, Forscher untersuchen Medienpiraterie in Schwellenländern, das EU-Patent kommt voran.


December 21 2010

BGH: eBay muss Rechtsverstöße nicht manuell überprüfen

Mit Urteil vom 22. Juli 2010 (Az.: I ZR 139/08), das jetzt im Volltext veröffentlicht wurde,  hat der BGH entschieden, dass eBay nicht verpflichtet ist, manuelle Kontrollen durchzuführen, um Markenrechtsverletzungen zu ermitteln.

Der BGH stützt sich hierbei – übrigens auch in Bezug auf Unterlassungsansprüche – auf § 7 Abs. 2 Satz 1 TMG, der vorsieht, dass Diensteanbieter i.S. der §§ 8 bis 10 TMG nicht aktiv nach Umständen forschen müssen, die auf eine rechtswidrige Tätigkeit hinweisen. Nicht mehr zumutbar sind nach Ansicht des BGH in jedem Fall Kontrollmaßnahmen, bei denen durch eine Filtersoftware Verdachtsfälle von Markenverletzungen nicht aufgespürt werden können, sondern vielmehr abschließend jedes Angebot, das die Klagemarken enthält, einer manuellen Kontrolle unterzogen werden muss.

Eine Störerhaftung scheidet nach Ansicht des BGH deshalb aus, weil eBay nicht verpflichtet ist, im Einzelfall die komplizierte Beurteilung vorzunehmen, ob ein als rechtsverletzend beanstandetes Angebot ein Schutzrecht tatsächlich verletzt oder sich als wettbewerbswidrig erweist. Dies würde ansonsten die Hinzuziehung eines mit der Materie vertrauten Juristen erfordern, was eBay nicht zuzumuten ist.

Die Leitsätze des BGH lauten:

a) Der Betreiber eines Internetmarktplatzes, der Dritten dort die Möglichkeit eröffnet, Verkaufsangebote ohne seine Kenntnisnahme in einem vollautomatischen Verfahren einzustellen, ist nicht verpflichtet, sämtliche Verkaufsangebote, die die Marken eines Markeninhabers anführen, einer manuellen Bildkontrolle darauf zu unterziehen, ob unter den Marken von den Originalerzeugnissen abweichende Produkte angeboten werden.

b) Der Betreiber eines Internetmarktplatzes haftet regelmäßig nicht nach §§ 3, 6 Abs. 2 Nr. 6, § 8 Abs. 1 UWG als Täter oder Teilnehmer, wenn in Angeboten mit Formulierungen “ähnlich” oder “wie” auf Marken eines Markeninhabers Bezug genommen wird.

c) Die Grundsätze der unberechtigten Schutzrechtsverwarnung nach § 823 Abs. 1 BGB sind auf die wettbewerbsrechtliche Abmahnung nicht übertragbar.

November 08 2010

OLG Wien bestätigt Schadensersatzpflicht von eBay

Das Oberlandesgericht Wien hat mit Beschluss vom 27.09.2010 (Az.: 1  R 182/10g) die Berufung gegen ein Urteil des Landesgerichts St. Pölten zurückgewiesen, durch das eBay zur Zahlung von Schadensersatz in Höhe von mehr als EUR 16.000,- verurteilt worden war.

Der klagende eBay-Nutzer ist Opfer eines betrügerischen deutschen Power-Sellers geworden, an den er den Kaufpreis im Wege der Vorkasse bezahlt hatte, ohne, dass die Kaufsache geliefert worden war. eBay war zuvor von dritter Seite mehrfach auf Unregelmäßigkeiten bei dem Powerseller hingewiesen worden, insbesondere auf massive Verstöße gegen die AGB von eBay. Diese Warnungen hatte eBay nach den gerichtlichen Feststellungen ignoriert und nichts unternommen, um die Käufer zu schützen.

Das OLG weist in seiner Entscheidungsbegründung u.a. darauf hin, dass der von eBay verliehene Platin-Seller-Status auf eine besondere Vertrauenswürdigkeit des Verkäufers hindeute. Ein unbefangener Kunde, so das OLG Wien, darf aufgrund der von eBay selbst aufgestellten Regeln davon ausgehen, dass ein mit einem Powerseller abgeschlossenes Geschäft in der Regel ein geringeres Risiko beinhaltet, als Geschäfte mit sonstigen Verkäufern. Das wiederum begründet nach Ansicht des OLG Wien erhöhte Sorgfaltspflichten von eBay. Wenn eBay konkrete und nachprüfbare Informationen über Verstöße gegen seine eigenen Regeln vorliegen,  so muss es, nach Meinung des Gerichts, zum Schutz anderer Kunden handeln und eine Überprüfung durchführen.

(via Falle-Internet)

July 26 2010

Strafbare Massenabmahnungen

Eine kriminelle Masche bei der Abmahnung von  eBay-Händlern – die in ähnlicher Form vermutlich öfter praktiziert wird – hatte für zwei Hagener Rechtsanwälte strafrechtliche Konsequenzen. Die Juristen haben  sich das Anwaltshonorar, das die Abgemahnten bezahlt hatten, mit ihren Mandanten geteilt. In derartigen Fällen rechtsmissbräuchlicher Abmahnungen entsteht der Anspruch auf Erstattung von Anwaltskosten aber überhaupt nicht, weil nur für berechtigte Abmahnungen Anwaltskosten verlangt werden können. Die Anwälte haben folglich die Erstattung von Honorar gefordert, das gar nicht entstanden war. Das ist nicht nur berufsrechtlich unzulässig, sondern stellt einen Betrug zu Lasten der Abgemahnten dar.

Über den Fall berichtet DER Westen. (via Telemedicus)

June 10 2010

eBay-Händler und die 14-tägige Widerrufsfrist

Morgen am 11.06.2010 treten Änderungen im Fernbsatzrecht in Kraft. Es wird u.a. – wieder einmal – eine neue Musterwiderrufsbelehrung geben, die nunmehr Gesetzesrang hat. Außerdem will der Gesetzgeber durch eine Änderung von § 355 BGB erreichen, dass auch eBay-Händler eine nur zweiwöchige Widerrufsfrist einräumen können und nicht die von einem Monat.

Hierbei ist allerdings vorerst noch Vorsicht geboten, denn über eine Widerrufsfrist von 14 Tagen darf nur dann belehrt werden, wenn diese Belehrung unmittelbar nach Vertragsschluss in Textform erfolgt. Diese Belehrung müsste deshalb sinnvollerweise Bestandteil der E-Mail sein, die den Kauf bzw. das Auktionsende bestätigt. eBay wird, nach eigenen Angaben, die in “Mein eBay” bzw. im Verkaufsformular im Feld „Rücknahmebedingungen“ angegebene Widerrufs- oder Rückgabebelehrung des Verkäufers voraussichtlich aber erst ab Juli 2010 in die E-Mail zum Angebotsende integrieren.

Bis dahin sollten eBay-Händler zwar zwingend die neue Musterwiderrufsbelehrung verwenden, allerdings zunächst weiterhin mit der Monatsfrist.

May 28 2010

Onlinehandel: Änderungen im Widerrufsrecht zum 11.06.2010

Am 11.06.2010 treten Änderungen im Fernabsatzrecht in Kraft, die für Onlinehändler wichtige Neuerungen mit sich bringen.

Durch eine Änderung des § 355 BGB soll nunmehr gewährleistet werden, dass auch bei Verkäufen über die Handelsplattform eBay eine 14-tägige Widerrufsfrist eingeräumt werden kann. Bislang hatten einige Obergerichte die durchaus fragwürdige Rechtsansicht vertreten, dass Widerrufsbelehrungen auf Websites nicht der Textform genügen, mit der Folge, dass speziell bei eBay-Verkäufen eine einmonatige Widerrufsfrist eingeräumt werden musste. Diese Ungleichbehandlung versucht der Gesetzgeber nunmehr zu beseitigen. Ob der neue Gesetzeswortlaut insoweit ausreichend Klarheit bietet, wird man allerdings abwarten müssen.

Wer wegen einer zu kurzen Widerrufsfrist bei eBay in der Vergangenheit abgemahnt wurde und eine strafbewehrte Unterlassungserklärung abgegegeben hat, muss sich u.U. Gedanken darüber machen, ob er den Unterlassungsvertrag wegen der Gesetzesänderung kündigen muss. Denn andernfalls ergibt sich bei einer Anpassung der Widerrufsbelehrung an die neue Rechtslage und die Verkürzung der Frist auf 14 Tage das Problem, dass man damit gegen die weiter existente Unterlassungsverpflichtung verstößt. Hier ist in jedem Fall Vorsicht geboten und ggf. anwaltlicher Rat einzuholen.

Neu ist ferner auch, dass die Musterwiderrufsbelehrung nunmehr Gesetzesrang hat. Damit ist es den Gerichten verwehrt, die Widerrufsbelehrung als unwirksam oder intransparent zu qualifizieren, was zu mehr Rechtssicherheit führen soll.

April 19 2010

Your hidden treasures

If a Superman comic can fetch $1.5m - as one did recently at an auction in the US - then how much could the toys, records and furniture in your house be worth? Emine Saner puts a price on some unlikely collectors' items


During the war, the only American comics that made it to the UK were brought by US sailors docking at Southampton, who would swap them for sweets and cigarettes. Sadly, that means the chances of finding a comic in your attic to rival the 1938 issue of Action Comics No 1 (the first Superman cartoon), which sold recently for a record-breaking $1.5m, is remote. Nonetheless, says comic expert and auctioneer Malcolm Phillips: "Any British comics from the war years are very collectable. There would be a lot of propaganda in them aimed at children, which was very interesting. You'd get a picture of Hitler hanging by a rope, dead."

Phillips is well placed to judge. In 2004, he sold a copy of the first Dandy from 1937 for £20,350. "What was rare about it was it came with its original free gift – a whistle," says Phillips.

A Beano from the early 40s could go for up to £40, and special issues can be double or treble that. In a pile of 50s comics, Malcolm always looks for issue 452 – the comic in which Dennis the Menace makes his first appearance.

It isn't just comics either. Phillips recently auctioned an almost complete year of Melody Makers from 1963, which includes its first Beatles cover."We are inundated with people wanting to sell stuff, but we turn a lot of it away," he says. Most comics from the 70s onwards, in good condition, are still only worth a few pounds.


"There is a massive market for 20th-century toys," says antiques expert and TV presenter Jonty Hearnden. Indeed, last month a collection of toy cars fetched £100,000 at auction. Anyone who has ever watched an antiques show will know that collectors prize mint condition, but even if you weren't one of those odd children who never took their robots or Batman models out of their original boxes, there is a chance your old toys could still be worth something.

"I was at a car boot sale last year and there were all these old Sindy dolls," says collectables expert Tracey Martin. "They were in terrible condition – their hair had been chopped off, some were missing feet – but I bought them for £1 each because I liked their outfits." Then she put them on eBay and they all went for £70-80 each. "It turned out they were rare, which goes to show that even something in awful condition can be worth a fair bit if it's rare enough."

The Green Lady picture

This otherworldly, or sickly, depending on your taste, face of a young Chinese woman gazed down from the walls of sitting rooms across the world in the 60s and 70s, but it was particularly popular in Britain. "You could buy prints of this picture very cheaply in Boots," says Martin, "and they're still in people's homes today." This print, by painter Vladimir Tretchikoff, one of the most famous ever made, still makes snobbish art critics recoil, but thanks to the ongoing trend for kitsch, says Martin, it now sells for around £100.

Record collections

Whenever anyone finds out what Ian Shirley does – he's the editor of the Rare Record Price Guide – they always want to know how much their own collections are worth. "Obviously, it depends on what they have. They could have 200 records worth £10,000, or 2,000 records worth much less." The best way to find out is to get a copy of the price guide, or do a search on an internet auction site to see how much records have sold for. There are two things that determine value: scarcity, and mint condition (this usually means never played, even better if it has never been taken out of its sleeve). Lots of people will have Beatles or Rolling Stones records, but there aren't that many mint copies, says Shirley. Records that didn't sell well when they came out are worth much more. Vinyl from the 50s and 60s is usually collectable, and at the moment certain genres are doing better than others: 70s prog and folk rock, psychedelic, reggae. Even more recent records have become collectable – a collector will pay around £40 for a copy of Blur's Parklife, for instance.

Wedding presents

In the 50s and 60s, many couples received stainless-steel tableware such as teapots and toast racks as wedding gifts. "Look out for anything from the 50s onwards from Old Hall," says Mark Hill, co-author of Miller's Collectables Price Guide and presenter of BBC's forthcoming Cracking Antiques. "Lots of people were given teapots and other kitchenware in the 60s as wedding presents and they've been forgotten about in cupboards." A collector will pay up to £150 for a teapot from the company's Alveston range.

A popular 70s wedding present was Sheringham candlesticks, produced by Kings Lynn and Wedgwood Glass and designed by Ronald Stennett-Willson. "Again, they fell out of fashion, but now they are starting to emerge from lofts and sideboards," says Hill. They are made from coloured discs of glass, and the more discs the candlestick has, the more valuable it is – one with eight discs can be worth more than £1,000.


There are marble collectors who will pay up to several hundred pounds for a shiny sphere and a pretty pattern. What you are looking for here is late 19th- and early 20th-century marbles. "They were handmade in Germany and you can tell what they are by looking for two rough patches at the top and bottom," says Hill. What happens with all collectables is that once the very rare, early examples of an item are bought up, collectors move down the food chain to the not-so-old-and-rare versions. "So later marbles made in America by companies such as Akro Agate and Christensen are collectable too, and rising in value. I went through my collection from childhood and I found I had a few good ones." As ever, the better the condition, the better the value, so look for ones that aren't chipped and scuffed – and common cats' eye marbles aren't particularly collectable.

Vintage clothes

Items from valuable designer names such as Ozzie Clark, Biba and Mary Quant are already well-known, but there are others, says Martin, packed away in trunks or hidden at the back of wardrobes that any vintage collector would snap up. "Look for anything by Bill Gibb, the 70s fashion designer, which can be worth up to £600, or Jean Varon – this label was designed by John Bates, and a good maxidress can be worth anything up to around £400." Even modern clothes can fetch high prices on internet auction sites, particularly designer high-street collaborations, says Martin. "Matthew Williamson's 'peacock dress' for H&M can fetch as much as £250."

Ercol furniture

Chances are, you probably won't have an undiscovered Tufft table in the spare room, but more recent furniture can be valuable too. Hill's top tip is for mid-century Ercol furniture, which is particularly sought after at the moment. "Look out for the nest of three 'pebble' tables, particularly in blond wood," says Hill. They are worth around £150, with some shops charging several hundred. "You'd imagine that sort of furniture sitting unloved in a corner somewhere." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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