Yes, you can be sued for selling replica items, even if your customers know the items are fake, because knock-offs infringe copyright and damage the value of trademarks. The allegations are serious and you need legal representation ASAP.
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Yes - absolutely! You are committing copyright infringement. That would be like me selling sunglasses that looked just like Oakley sunglasses, but I don't put the Oakley name on them. Everyone knows you can spot Oakley sunglasses a mile away. The goods you are selling are counterfeit. You need to contact an intellectual property attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.
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I understand the concern of my colleagues here, but would like to make clear that in the US we cannot protect fashion designs under copyright laws. There is no such concept for functional items. In Europe, however, that is not the case. This is why all those dresses you see on the red carpet are available the next week at H & M under a variety of brand names.
My colleague's analogy to sunglasses is apt because in that case, we may have patent issues that protect how those glasses function and in some cases the design.
That said, one can claim a copyright interest in pattern designs and this is often the crux of CR litigation. So you need to make sure you are not using anything that can be claimed. Further, any use of another's brands or logos is trademark infringement.
I will link you to a brief overview of copyright law in the fashion industry below and you can do your own research on this topic. I also suggest that you reach out to a lawyer (or several) for a free phone consultation and discuss your objectives in more detail so you are clear on where the limits are.
The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. 866-871-8655 Support@LanternLegal.com DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
I agree with attorney Natoli on this one. Dress designs are not covered by copyright. however that does not protect you from being sued for copyright infringement and having to defend the case. You need to see an intellectual property law attorney that understands the fashion industry, preferably one in your own state.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.