Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reselling Apple Products Redux

Dear Rich: I have a question about one of your posts, titled Reselling Apple Products from February of 2009.    I am interested in opening an online store and selling Apple products. However, I am not interested in becoming an authorized reseller. Am I allowed to do that?  I emailed Apple (their reseller program) asking whether I can do that, and they emailed me back this morning: "Ben, you can only sell Apple products as an Apple Authorized Reseller." Are they right? Will I be acting illegally if I open my store and sell their products? Gee, was that really over a year ago that we wrote that post about reselling Apple stuff? Time sure flies when you have mutated DNA.  
Is Apple right? ... Since Apple's email has raised concerns, we reviewed our information. Conclusion: we're standing by our post. The Dear Rich Staff loves its Mac (and by extension that loves goes out to all Apple employees) and we can only assume that the Apple customer service rep who responded to you had a momentary lapse of judgment perhaps triggered by iPad hysteria
Hassling Nonauthorized Resellers? Apple cannot halt resales of legitimately acquired U.S. versions of its products. But it can enforce its copyright and trademark rights which means that they may go after unauthorized resellers who use the Apple logo or name to imply Apple's endorsement, or who lift advertising copy or images from the Apple site. On that basis, they pursued unauthorized iPod sellers in 2005 and pursued unauthorized Mac resellers back in 1998. They will also apparently pursue unauthorized resellers who induce authorized resellers to breach their reseller agreements whatever that means -- we haven't located a reseller agreement, so we're not sure.