Not everyone can afford smoldering price tags on luxury goods. But a lot of people are keen on using products that look like those expensive products but at a much cheaper price. That’s why the market for replicas is huge and profitable.
If you’re on the same train of thought and planning on selling replicas on Shopify, you would need to keep the laws in mind. It’s not just the laws, you might know and be well aware of Shopify’s strict rules regarding the sales of goods that breach their terms.
Let me first assure you that selling replicas on Shopify can be tricky. Let’s dive into the article to find out whether it is legal to sell replicas on Shopify or if it would land you in hot waters.
So, Are You Allowed To Sell Replicas On Shopify?
Pay close attention, because this is important. The answer to your question of whether you can sell replicas on Shopify depends on conditions and entails you keep a few important factors in mind.
You can sell replicas on Shopify as long as the products you are selling do not, in any way, shape, or form, infringe on any patent, trademark, or copyright.
This means replicas cannot breach Shopify’s condition for selling intellectual property.
So, what does that mean?
For that, you would first have to understand what a replica is exactly in terms of business and law.
Remember that replicas, by definition, are products that are exact or close copies of another product. The replica is supposed to look, feel and resemble the original product closely.
Selling a replica is legal as long as it does not carry the copyright, logo, trademark, or patent of the original product. More importantly, the customer needs to be aware of the fact that the product they are buying is indeed a replica and not the original branded product.
If you sell a replica on Shopify that does not infringe copyright or trademark but fail to mention it to the customer or fails to make them aware of the authenticity of the product, you could be legally taken action against.
Can You Sell Counterfeit Items On Shopify?
People often confuse counterfeit products with replicas. For you to stay on the legal lane, you need to know the difference between replicas, counterfeit, and knockoffs. While replicas with no legal or copyright infringement are legal to sell, counterfeit items are not.
What are Counterfeit products?
Counterfeit items imitate the original product in such a way that deceives and fools customers into thinking that the product is original.
These items don’t just Xerox the original product, they also include any signs, logos, or trademarks that you service to deceive customers into thinking that these products are original.
Additionally, to keep customers in the dark, the prices are not reduced too much either since people would doubt a highly affordable, say Louis Vuitton bag. Not just that, when anyone is selling counterfeit items on Shopify, they would refrain from mentioning that the product is a fake one.
Keep in mind that Counterfeit products breach several of Shopify’s policies and can land you in the hands of the law. The brand and Shopify are both eligible to take action against this practice.
Can You Sell Knockoff Items On Shopify?
Now, Knockoffs are not the same as replicas or counterfeits. Knockoff products are not as identical to the original product and only have similarities. That is why you can sell knockoff products on Shopify.
Even then you must let your customers know that this is only a knockoff. In most cases, your customers would be able to tell a knock-off from an original product.
However, with knockoffs, you would have to keep in mind that if the item is too similar to the original products, and can deceive the eye of a customer, you might be accountable for breaching Shopify’s terms and conditions.
You may say that the laws Shopify implies are context-specific and it would need you to put in the time and effort to research your product.
The products may, even if you don’t expect them to, fall into one of the categories. So, here are the privacy policies that pertain to selling replicas and counterfeits on Shopify.
Intellectual Property Policy
First, according to Shopify’s clearly defined Acceptable Use Policy, you would want to hover your eyes on point number 6, which bans the selling of intellectual property.
Intellectual property defines original work, products, and concepts that give the owner of the original product exclusive rights to use and control the product. These are products that have a copyright, a brand name, a trademark, a logo, and a patent.
This is where Shopify clearly states the following: you are not allowed to offer goods or services or post anything related to any good that infringes the trademark or copyright of another.
Malicious and Deceptive Practice Policy
Now, on Shopify’s list of policies on their AUP, the rule next to intellectual property rights talks about deceitful and fraudulent practices and how keeping your customers in the dark regarding the authenticity and quality of a product can land you in trouble with Shopify.
When you are selling a product on Shopify that infringes copyright, and you keep that information from the customers, you would be held accountable for breaching this policy.
That’s why selling replicas and knockoffs while keeping the customer informed is allowed but selling counterfeits is not.
What Happens To Shopify Stores Selling Fakes?
As you can see if your caught without proper license to sell such fakes, your account will be frozen according to Reddit.
When you sell counterfeit or fake products on Shopify, knowing or unknowingly, your Shopify store will be shut down. Selling fakes on Shopify is considered to be illegal and violates their terms and conditions.
You may or may not get an email about the shutting of your store depending on what you are selling and for how long. In almost all cases, there has not been any notice period given to the store owners to clear out a fake product from their store.
Shopify’s policies are strict regarding deception and intellectual property. You may even face legal action from the rightful owner of the original product. You may even be recorded under criminal offense for selling such products under certain jurisdictions.
Guidelines On How To Sell Replicas Legally On Shopify
If you are to sell replicas on Shopify, there are a few very important facets to remember and follow. Here is a useful guideline on how to sell replicas legally on Shopify:
Know and understand Shopify’s policies
Whether you plan on selling replicas, used goods, or new products, going through Shopify’s policies and truly understanding them and following them is the wisest step to take for you as a seller.
You would want to comprehend and comply with what you can and cannot sell on Shopify. This will help you understand what can cause your store to shut down based on Shopify’s policies.
Follow the laws of your country
It is not just Shopify’s policies. To be able to sell replicas on Shopify without having criminal stamps to your name, you would want to follow the state laws as well.
In a few states, the jurisdiction regarding sales of replicas and fakes is quite strict. This could allow the brand of the original product to sue you in serious court laws.
Check for logos and copyright
You would not get in trouble and can legally sell replicas as long the items you are selling do not infringe on any copyright or trademarks. Make sure that the replicas you have do not have any logo, trademark, or patent signs.
Sometimes, the supplier you are getting your goods from may include replicas with logos and copyright stickers. Check your products thoroughly before listing them on your Shopify store.
Be honest with your customer
It is possible to sell replicas on Shopify legally only if you are honest with your customers. You would want to avoid any practice that relates to deception.
You can simply do so by clearly mentioning to your customers, in places they are bound to see, that the product is merely a replica and that you own no rights to the original one. Doing this alone can build your case strongly, in case Shopify decides to take action against your store.
What Replicas Can You Sell Legally On Shopify
You can sell many types of replicas legally when you are on Shopify. From bags to shoes to gadgets, you can abide by Shopify’s terms and conditions and sell each of them legally. One of the most commonly sold replicas on Shopify is toys.
However, when selling toys, you would want to stay away from Barbie dolls. Barbie dolls have strict counterfeit policies and can get you in legal trouble quite easily.
It’s also legal to sell clothing replicas and is also one of the markets that does not get too much scrutiny. Brand, luxury, or high-end clothing can only be reproduced and imitated inexpertly.
You can imitate or be inspired by a luxury dress worth thousands of dollars and sell it on Shopify for a few hundred. Without the original company’s brand and logo, fashion can be forged into, that too legally.
Additionally, you can also sell replicas of gadgets and tech products. One of the most common ones I have seen is Apple products.
A product that looks like an iPhone but does not have the logo, trademark sticker, or copyright can be a replica you can sell on Shopify.
What Replicas Can You Not Sell On Shopify
Replicas that are strikingly similar and are difficult to separate from the original products are ones you cannot sell.
In short, you cannot sell a replica that looks exactly like the original copy, so much so that you are to deceive a customer.
If your customer cannot tell that they are replicas and are not informed before the sale, you can be legally charged by the law and Shopify.
Some Legal Considerations
Here are legal considerations while selling replicas on Shopify:
- Obtain legal permission from the owner of the original product
- Consult with an attorney to understand whether you can legally sell a particular replica
- See if your city or state allows the sale of replicas legally online and offline
Can you get in trouble for buying replicas on Shopify?
You should not get in trouble for buying replicas on Shopify. Owning or possessing replica products is legal. Additionally, Shopify does not restrict the selling of replicas either.
You can legally sell replicas on Shopify by following a few key guidelines. The most important part of it all is to stay honest with your customers. You can do so by simply making them aware of the product you are selling.
Additionally, you would want to make sure that the replica you are selling does not have a copyright or trademark that may deceive a customer. Keep in mind that Shopify has strict rules regarding the breaching of their terms and conditions and may shut down your store immediately if you fail to comply with these rules.
Make sure you check out my article on What Items You Cannot Sell On Shopify here!