Palo santo is the common name of a wood (Bursera graveolens) found in coastal areas of Peru and Ecuador and on the Galapagos Islands. This wood is naturally aromatic and has been considered sacred by Peruvian and Ecuadorian indigenous peoples for no one knows how long. Spanish Conquistadors and priests named it palo santo ("holy wood") in the 16th century. They began to burn it as an incense and in Peru it continues to be carried, lighted, in Catholic religious processions to this day.
Both Peru and Ecuador have laws governing the export of palo santo, because the wood has become endangered through over-harvesting. Growers and exporters are supposed to have government permission to export palo santo, certifyiung that it has been produced in a sustainable way. Such permissions are not always obtained, but this has nothing to do with why eBay has been pulling listings of palo incense and products made of palo santo wood.
The reason eBay pulls these listings is that an Italian firm based in San Marino has registered "Palo Santo" as a trademark with the European Union (EU)* and recorded their right with eBay's VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) program. When Lynpha Vitale discovers a listing under the heading Palo Santo (capitalization conventions are ignored), it reports it as a trademark infringement, and eBay pulls the listing, no questions asked and no explanation given.
eBay declines to be of any help in this matter, citing US laws requiring them to enforce trademark infringement claims. It does not matter that the term "palo santo" was in general and wide use long before Lynpha Vitale came along and is not necessarily equivalent to "Palo Santo" employed as a name, because the trademark is enforced as if it were a copyright. Moreover, although the trademark is supposed to apply only to items sold in EU countries, Lynpha Vitale claims infringement even when sellers do not ship to those countries, thus blocking all sales of palo santo products other than their own world-wide.
Lynpha Vitale can get by with this because of eBay policies even though palo santo is available from a variety of sources on the Internet generally and eBay is consquently only hurting its own sellers and buyers. Unfortunately, this situation is unlikely to change until Peru or Ecuador or some other entity with legal standing challenges the trademark in EU courts. Meanwhile, Lynpha Vitale has rights to the name and eBay sellers wishing to use it or the term "palo santo" must obtain a license from them or risk having their listings pulled and their businesses compromised.
*The trademark number is 005889431. It was registered by Lynpha Vitale S.R.L. on April 4, 2008.