When I decided to move into e-commerce from wholesale manufacturing, I felt that my background in fashion and design should play a major role. After some research, I settled on fashion handbags. In looking for a designer manufacturer, I received 79 offers from factories making designer handbags. All were from China, except one, and made fake high end designer handbags. Fake is not what I was looking for. I chose an American designer who manufactures his own line.
But, what about all these fake handbags? I got these offers in just two days. Could they be legal? The answer is yes and no. High end designers may be granted a design patent on the uniqueness of an article which prevents others from making exact copies. However they are not prevented from using a similar look or style. Fake handbags that try to take advantage of a hot style may come close to the original without violating the law. Fake handbags that are difficult to tell from the original probably are violating the law. This is predicated on a design patent being issued.
Now lets look at the trademark issue. A fake handbag that copies a trademarked logo or pattern is in violation of the law, even if the bag is not a copy. If you want a fake bag, there are plenty of places to get them. If you want an original, great, but avoid the fraudulent fakes which could result in criminal activity.
I market a line of Designer handbags. Not the unique, high end designer handbag, but a legitimate authentic US designer. If you Google designer handbags, you will see a number of designer handbag sites. I visited a few sites, and there are authentic designer sites, and there are high fashion sites for new designers marketing their own line, and some sites marketing for new designer labels as I do. Be careful as you negotiate these sites. There are a number of places where you can get great deals on authentic designer handbags, but be careful of the too-good-to-be-true sites. Great deals on designer and fashion handbags are available through liquidators buying clearance lots from department store inventory reduction, and return goods inventory. Liquidators sell lots at auction to retailers. The retailers can then sell the inventory, and quite often online, at greatly reduced prices, and still be authentic. Some may be returns, some may be shelf inventory, and some may be warehouse over-stock, but they will all be identified as such, and they will all be authentic. This is a legitimate method major department stores use to clear space for a new line, or the spring collection.
Be assured, that great deals are out there on high fashion designer bags, but a little caution should be used to avoid having the “I just got scammed into buying a knockoff” blues. Be as skeptical online as you would be on the street corner.
Are fake designer handbags illegal? The answer is still maybe yes, maybe no, but now you have another tool to make an informed decision.