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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD, Attorney
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Experience:  Active member of the NYS bar since 1989
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Is it illegal to sale replica handbags in the USA if you use

Customer Question

Is it illegal to sale replica handbags in the USA if you use a disclaimor and your clients are FULLY aware the items are not being sold as authentic and that you are not affliated with any designer handbag companies? I have actually spoken with a representative at COACH but was given an extremely vague responce. I was told "Well, we dont condone the idea but if you use a disclaimor..." and basically didnt finish the sentence as in "If you use a disclaimor then your protected or its still illegal". I do not want to do ANYTHING illegal in any way I just believe that the pricing on such designer items are absolutely ridiculous and that anyone should be able to purchase an alike item with having to use thier life savings. I have researched this question endless hours and there are so many conflicting answers. I just want to verify that even if the items clearly say the designer name (ie: Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Juicy Coutue, etc) but if you are using a disclaimor are you protected from any legal action agaisnt yourself or person. Alot of what I have found is that the "illegal" part would be if you are selling then items as authentic when clearly they are not. I also found something about regardless of a disclaimor people can still be confused because they bare the name of the designer which I believe is something called "trademark dress". PLEASE HELP! Also - I was told by another source that if you sold online you were protected because the government does not have control over the internet... YIKES! So confused!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

If you sell a knockoff and you advertise it as a knockoff but your knockoff uses the trade name of the item, you can still be sued by the designer for the use of their name and logo.

As to your question about the internet, items like this are stricken from eBay all of the time and the sellers do get letters from lawyers requiring fines and legal action. While the government may have difficulty policing the entire internet, producers of goods that are likely to spawn knock offs generally know where to look for them.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, I guess where a lot of my confusion comes in is that there are millions of websites that sell these items daily with the use of a disclaimor. It seems crazy that there are this many companies selling these items if it is considered illegal. Or the fact that is not illegal to purchase the items - I dont see the difference in purchasing and reselling (it would seem to support the same idea). I have also heard that it is not illegal in the UK - I guess I am still confused at the in's and out's.

Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 3 years ago.
Jacustomer,

There are plenty of people selling drugs too all over the streets of every community. It doesn't make it legal and it doesn't mean that some don't get caught, fined heavily, sued and sometimes even prosecuted.

You may be one of the lucky ones. You may not be. Nobody is going to tell you that it's legal here. The fact that it's legal wherever you bought them in the first place and that it may be legal in other countries as well is not relevant if it's not US law. Every country's laws are somewhat different.

The difference between selling a knockoff and reselling a legitimate item is that in the second case, the actual producer of the good got the profit for the item that he's entitled to. If you sell a knockoff you're using his name and depriving him of his cut. That's a form of theft, anyway you look at it.

With all of this available on the web (much of it coming from China where Coach, for example may be unlikely to pursue a remedy), the odds of you getting caught may be quite low. But if you do, it is sure to be costly.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Oh I completely understand what you are saying. Im not asking for someone to tell me its legal I am just looking for a straight answer which as I mentioned I had been unable to get thus far. I would never want to do anything to take away from someone else, I am just trying to verify information needed for research. I personally didnt purchase such an item so your statement would not apply but I see the point you are making. Thanks for your input on the matter.
Expert:  Zoey, JD replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

I don''t think the answer you want is out there. Most high end designers require resellers to meet special criteria. Many of them are vigilant when it comes to enforcing their rights. There are still plenty of knockoffs on eBay, but Tiffany, for example, won a huge lawsuit against them for allowing the knockoffs and they are taken down regularly. If you're looking for the odds of getting caught selling knockoffs on line, that is probably very variable.

I have represented defendants who have been arrested for selling bootleg goods. They were videos and albums rather than pocketbooks, but the principle's the same. I also actually knew someone who did get in trouble for selling knockoff Coach bags, but only knew her because so many of us bought them. Once the trouble began, she was let go from her job, and I do not know what happened from there.

Good luck!

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Zoey, JD
Zoey, JD
Lawyer
17146 Satisfied Customers
Active member of the NYS bar since 1989