Whether you’re selling online or at a flea market, selling counterfeit merchandise is dangerous. Not only can you end up with a poor reputation if you claim the items are legitimate, you can also end up in legal trouble.
Some sellers who have spent a lot of time in flea markets may be so used to seeing counterfeit merchandise that they don’t realize how serious of a problem it is. The most important thing to know is that selling counterfeit merchandise is illegal. Also know that, as you are the one selling the items to the public rather than wholesaling, you are the most exposed. Your wholesaler can easily go for years without being found out, but because you are selling on e-commerce sites with popular keywords or in highly-trafficked flea markets, more people will see the item for sale from you, and you are the one who will pay the price.
When we say ‘pay the price’, we mean it quite literally. If the owner of a trademarked item you are counterfeiting finds you out, you can have all of your inventory possessed, and you can be forced to pay up to three times your profits as damages. Additionally, the trademark owner can choose to sue you for more, dipping the costs out of your personal assets.
Keep it Real
If you decide you want to sell name-brand products, it is incredibly important to be sure the items you sell are real. You can be held legally responsible for selling counterfeit products even if you are selling them unknowingly. With that in mind, it is imperative to be completely sure that the brand-name items you sell are real. Some of the most commonly counterfeited brands are:
- Louis Vuitton
- North Face
- Hello Kitty
- Sports team logos
If you plan to sell one of these brands, it is especially important to take as many steps as possible to ensure you are selling real brand-name products. Below are some of the ways to be sure you have the genuine article.
- Compare logos side-by-side, with an eye for details. Companies that make their fortune on their name are meticulous about their logo being printed exactly the same on every product. Even tiny differences can be telling.
- If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Know the MSRP and common wholesale prices of any products you plan to sell.
- Pay attention to packaging. Expensive brands don’t usually have cheap packaging, and they never have words spelled incorrectly. Read labels carefully to look for mistakes.
- Look for quality. Expensive luxury items should have good seams, tight, even stitches, and no faded or mismatched colors.
- Know the market. If the item you’re sourcing is in high demand and customers are having a hard time finding it, a seller offering you a deal on a high quantity of them is unlikely.
- Know your source. Develop relationships with wholesale businesses, so you can know who to trust before a deal pops up. If you have a history with a dealer, they should be able to work with you to help verify that products are genuine.