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Is it legal to import/sell imitation chinese smartphones in the US?

New York, NY |

I am planning to use a dropshipping website like "" to import imitation chinese smartphones. I don't know what to call them exactly, they are hight quality android phones that sometimes may look like a Galaxy or an iPhone (not always since they sometimes have their own design) However, these phones usually do not have a brand, they use the "Android" name as a brand and some of them have the brand "THL" or "HDC" (to make it look like HTC). I wanted to ask if it I'll get trouble with the customs while importing a large quantity of these phone, and if I could actually sell them legally on an online store? Thanks.

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Attorney answers 3


Without knowing more, and before you consult an attorney (which you will need to do), I would say "probably not."

You could run afoul of consumer protection laws, import/export regulations not to mention trademark laws if the phones are made to appear as though they are made by a known brand OR if they use the "Android" mark without permission.

This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a lawyer qualified in your jurisdiction to discuss your situation in confidence. The guidance I have given describes only general legal concepts without knowing the exact factual details of your situation.


You'll want to be careful of course that the phones are not imitators. And you'll want to follow any import/export protocol guidelines. I 'd recommend you sit down with a Business Law attorney in NY. See under Find-A-Lawyer. Good Luck!


I see a number of issues that you will need to work through. Before you engage in this enterprise, you will want to get a good lawyer, because I strongly suspect you will be sued. The biggest issues I see (in the order you will probably encounter them, not in order of importance):

1. Import - Just getting goods into the country requires someone understanding import/export law.
2. Trademark - By your own statement above, the phones have names on them that are "make it look like" other companies' trademarks. Those companies quite properly protect their trademarks and take quick action against perceived infringers, which I suspect they will perceive you to be.
3. Patent - I would not be surprised if phones that are made to look like and being confusingly similar to top brand smart phones will also infringe the myriad of patents that are on those phones.

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