Is it Legal to Sell Replica Bags, Counterfeit Goods, Knockoffs?

In the fight against intellectual property infringements, you need to know your vocabulary. There is a difference between counterfeit goods, replica items, and knockoffs, and it is essential to know them apart because different laws, regulations, and penalties apply when it comes to the selling and purchasing of these items. The fast-paced development of the internet, which provides an easy breeding-ground for fake products, makes it almost impossible to keep track of authenticity when it comes to your purchases. Moreover, it creates such a large variety of counterfeit goods on offer that it becomes difficult to understand what the legal repercussions are of selling counterfeits, replicas, and knockoffs. This article will explain, once and for all, whether or not it is legal to sell these products. It will also give you some insight into the rules of selling products on large e-commerce platforms.

When are products considered to be replica items, counterfeit goods, or knockoffs?

Itʼs easy to get lost in a sea of attractive products when youʼre shopping online. However, you must be extremely careful about checking what you buy. Scammers arenʼt just selling their wares in back-alleys and street corners anymore. No, they are fully operational online, making it harder to distinguish between originals and fakes. There are various kinds of fake goods, and it is essential to know the difference between them. Take a look at the distinctions here:

Definition of counterfeit goods

A counterfeit is a product that is made to look exactly like another product, thereby infringing upon the trademark of that product mark. The fake product is meant to deceive customers into believing that they are purchasing an original, usually at what appears to be a considerable discount. It tends to be challenging to distinguish the counterfeit from the original, though they can generally be told apart by looking at labels, packaging, as well as quality.

Definition of replica items

Replica is a relatively new term coined by counterfeiters to promote their products online. If it is similar to an original design but not identical (for example, missing the brandʼs logo), it is more like a knockoff.

Definition of knockoffs

A knockoff is a product that resembles another product, yet is not identical. Sometimes reputable brands even sell knockoffs of other brand’s products and designs, taking inspiration from them. The original brand could take the party copying their idea to court for infringing on their intellectual property.

What is illegal to sell on the most popular e-commerce platforms?

Each e-commerce platform has its own list of items that are prohibited for sale on its platform. Counterfeits, replicas, and knockoffs are illegal to sell on most e-commerce platforms, especially on the most popular ones like eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba. Besides, there is an endless list of items that are prohibited from selling on Amazon, and it includes things such as drugs, weapons, fine art, cosmetics, and animals. One is allowed to sell almost anything on eBay, but there are strict regulations one has to comply with. However, drugs and explosives such as fireworks are totally prohibited. Alibabaʼs prohibited items list includes weapons, drugs, adult or obscene material, and medical devices. 

Selling replica items, counterfeit goods, and knockoffs

Selling counterfeit products is illegal in the U.S., though there are no laws for punishing consumers for buying counterfeits. 

So fake, replica, knockoff. Or as The Street’s Mike Skinner is saying: “Let’s push things forward.”