Is it illegal to sell replica designer handbags?

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Is it illegal to sell replica designer handbags?

Was just looking into a way to earn extra income; thought about selling handbags but was told it’s illegal to sell “fake” bags. While I understand about trademark infringement, I am not understanding how others are selling replica’s if it is illegal? I mean others that have websites and sell in retail stores.

Asked on March 3, 2011 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are three answers to your question:

1) First, in a small number of cases, it's possible that the "replica" has been changed enough so as to avoid trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property infringement, while still being recognizable as what it is supposed to be. That's a very fine line, and I can't imagine it's done successfully that often, but I'd imagine it has to happen sometimes.

2) If the replica is actually a "spoof" or "parody," it may be permissble, since there are  some exceptions to intellectual property protection for parody. This will be a minority of cases, since a paradoy can't be identical to what it's mocking and must be recognizably a parody and not a knock off.

3) The laws don't enforce themself. People can get away with violating intellectual property--or any law--as long as no one takes legal action. Some sellers might be too small to be noticed; some companies are less aggressive than others in protecing their brands. In most cases, a knock is sold because no one has acted to stop it.


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