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Is it legal to sell replica or knock-off designer purses IF you clearly state that they are NOT real or authentic

Roy, WA |

I am considering buying a bunch of replica handbags, with the intent of reselling them & making it VERY CLEAR that they are not authentic or real, just look-a-like/replica. Is this illegal in Washington?

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

Selling brand name "replica" products is unlawful throughout the United States. Informing the consumer that your product is a "replica" does NOT protect you from infringement liability and, in fact, it is an ADMISSION that you're selling counterfeit product. If you want to handbags then create your own.

Posted

It's an illegal business model everywhere, under federal law which applies to all the states. What you do when you create a replica of a trademarked brand of handbag, even when you clearly label it a fake, is to trade on and business away from that brand. That brand invested time and money to create consumer awareness in that brand, and offering consumers a "knockoff" of that brand, is trademark infringement.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Posted

In addition to the answers above, you may also be committing trade dress infringement, that is selling product which bears confusing similarity to other name-brand items. More and more, name brand vendors are coming after "knock-off" merchants because they essentially cut into their business. Why buy the real thing when you can get something closely similar at much less. Bad idea all around.

Posted

If you sell products that bear a design and/or logo that is likely to cause confusion among customers, you may be guilty of trademark counterfeiting and/or "trade dress" infringement. Depending on the product, that can even be a crime in Washington, where you are located.

The underlying legal theory is that, even if you disclose that it is a knockoff to the consumer, there is no bar to confusion occurring after the point of sale. For example, if a woman carrying a knockoff purse to a cocktail party knows it is fake, but others viewing it believe it is real, they may be less likely to purchase the real thing -- either because the quality of the knockoff is shoddy, or because the value and prestige of the original has been diluted.

Think about it for a moment -- if anyone could openly wear a fake Rolex to a business meeting, but only they have the knowledge that it is fake, why would anyone spend $10,000 on the real thing anymore?

My suggestion is that you don't sell "replica" handbags, but consider selling the original products of some new designer, who is trying to make a name for him or herself.

Posted

If you sell products that bear a design and/or logo that is likely to cause confusion among customers, you may be guilty of trademark counterfeiting and/or "trade dress" infringement. Depending on the product, that can even be a crime in Washington, where you are located.

The underlying legal theory is that, even if you disclose that it is a knockoff to the consumer, there is no bar to confusion occurring after the point of sale. For example, if a woman carrying a knockoff purse to a cocktail party knows it is fake, but others viewing it believe it is real, they may be less likely to purchase the real thing -- either because the quality of the knockoff is shoddy, or because the value and prestige of the original has been diluted.

Think about it for a moment -- if anyone could openly wear a fake Rolex to a business meeting, but only they have the knowledge that it is fake, why would anyone spend $10,000 on the real thing anymore?

My suggestion is that you don't sell "replica" handbags, but consider selling the original products of some new designer, who is trying to make a name for him or herself.

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