Monday, May 3, 2010

Selling Louis Vuitton: Used or New?

Dear Rich: Louis Vuitton only lets me buy 3 bags at once as a customer. I want to know what happens if I sell bags like this unauthorized. If I put it on my website with my picture can I sell it new? Or do I have to say it is slightly used to not get in trouble? We think the key issue is not whether the handbag is advertised as new or used, but whether the bags you are selling are authentic or counterfeit. Anyone can resell authorized merchandise -- although the rules are not so black-and-white when it comes to imported goods as we described previously. (For those dealing in gray market goods, stay tuned for the Supreme Court's ruling in the Costco/Omega watch case.)
New or used. The rules regarding labeling of "new" or "used" are created by each state. As this article explains, there are no uniform state standards. The consistent underlying rule, and the one which the FTC applies, is whether consumers are being misled to believe something is "new" when it would really be perceived by the public as being "used." For example, we believe it would not be deceptive to state "New" if the package from Louis Vuitton were unopened and you had a method for verifying its authenticity. At the same time, if the packages had been opened  but never actually "used" as a handbag, we believe you can say, "Purchased New from Louis Vuitton. Never Used." Whatever you say, it's possible that LV's ever busy attorneys will be watching and may object if you are implying you are an authorized dealer. But like we said, their primary vigilance is aimed at the sales of illegal LV merch (of which there is plenty).
Of course, the Dear Rich Staff has a difficult time understanding handbag obsessions. Nevertheless, we support consumer spending in these troubled times, even if the dollars are ending up in the hands of a French company whose original owners mixed fascism with fashion. Hey, right wing or left wing, everybody's got a right to luxury goods.