Many small business re-sell items bought from wholesalers overseas. Wherever you source your product, it is possible that you may be buying a fake. Of course, selling fake or counterfeit goods will make you liable under intellectual property laws. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself and your business, so you can avoid the inadvertent purchase of counterfeit goods:
Beware of your sources. You should never trust a random source like a spam email. Random emails like this are often fronts for full-out scams, and often ways of marketing counterfeit goods.
Get a business credit card and use it in all of your transactions, especially those made online. Credit card companies often investigate fraudulent activity, and can best protect you.
If you are buying something at an online auction site, do your homework. Only buy from sellers who have good references. And take advantage of online auction guarantees offered by some websites. Be mindful of where you are buying from. If the seller is in a different country, it will be a lot more difficult to enforce your rights.
Obviously, you should not conduct business with an anonymous user. Get the person’s real name, business name (if applicable), address, and phone number. Verify this information before buying. And don’t send your payment to a post office box.
Be more cautious if the seller uses a free email service, such as hotmail, yahoo, etc. Of course, most people who use these free services are honest. However, most problems occur when a free service is used. After all, with a free email service, it is very easy for the seller to keep his or her real identity and information hidden.
Don’t buy if the deal is “too good to be true”. This goes along with using common sense. A Prada handbag for $20 is probably a fake.
Save copies of all of the emails and other documents involved in every transaction you undertake. This is useful for multiple purposes, but if you discover that an item is counterfeit, you have documentation to help you deal with the problem.
Watch for high-pressure sales tactics. People who sell the genuine items will almost always be able to sell them, and are under little pressure to make a sale. They will almost never force an item on you or pressure you to buy it.
Brands are keen to stop the dissemination of counterfeit goods, and they are afforded a myriad of protections and enforcement mechanisms to meet these ends. Selling counterfeit goods can make you subject to civil penalties, lawsuits, and police raids of your place of business. These guidelines can help protect your business and ensure that you do not have these problems.
Image by BigTallGuy.