Basic Training: Is Selling Replicas Kosher?

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq., owner of Ask The Business Lawyer, is an award-winning business attorney, speaker, and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She saves consulting and professional services companies time, money, and aggravation by serving as their outsourced legal counsel.

Posted on March 22, 2015 in IP & Social Media

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I like street fairs as much as the next gal (maybe more!), but can Kate Spade r-e-a-l-l-y be selling those charming handbags for only $10?

Q:  Is there any way I can I sell replicas legally in the United States?  How can I be sure I’m being protected?

A:  It is absolutely illegal to sell replica merchandise bearing the trade name of the original company on it. This is trademark infringement for which there can be serious fines.  If you wanted to sell replica merchandise, the only way to ensure that you would be protected is to contact the company and ask to license their trademarks.  However, be prepared to pay a stiff license fee if the brand is “hot” (as in popular, not stolen).  Be careful, too, with knockoffs that are made to look deceptively like the original merchandise (e.g., Louis Vuitton handbags) but don’t use the exact logo–that could spell trouble for you, too.  Best bet, if you want to be protected, is to take a sample of what you want to sell and consult with an intellectual property attorney about the pros and cons.

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