This looks so good, right? Pixar’s Cars 2 truck & car set for just $10 with free shipping from China included.
Or how about The Smurfs? My daughter LOVES Smurfs and will eat up anything that has a Smurf on it! Yes, even this nice looking children’s bedding set with The Smurfs characters on it:
There’s nothing wrong with this, right (other than the eating part I mean)? Everything looks good and you can probably make a nice profit on this item…not so fast! While items with Disney characters, characters from other TV shows or movies, musicians, celebrities etc. are hugely popular on eBay – you need to be VERY careful where you source these products from.
Hint – China is NOT the place to go for such items!
- A logo
- Cartoon character
- A band / singer image
- Movie logos / characters (Transformers etc.)
- And so on
Product like these need to be licensed and can ONLY be purchased from reputable wholesalers in the UK, USA or other countries but NOT from China! Chinese manufacturers simply take these images logos and place them on items WITHOUT paying anything to the licence holder – which is of course illegal.
Don’t be fooled by the low price and how great these items look – it doesn’t matter. It’s illegal to re-sell such items on eBay (or any other marketplace for that matter).
There’s a reason why such items are so expensive from official channels – the license fee these companies pay to manufacture them. So if you’re looking for legitimate Disney character items in wholesale, don’t expect rock bottom pricing, as there’s just no such thing.
The situation with these items is similar to regular branded goods – like stuff made by Sony, Apple or Samsung – margins are extremely small and you have to buy in huge bulk to make profit on eBay.
Okay granted, with these ‘character items’ margins are better compared to iPhones, but still – don’t expect huge profits here, unless you deal with older, out-dated character items.
I hear you say – “but Andrew, eBay is full of such cheap items sourced from China!” That’s very true, I agree, but that doesn’t change the fact that those items are fakes and illegal to sell. I also wish eBay would do more to control this but as you can understand, it’s actually not that easy to do – to verify the legitimacy of millions of items that fall into this category. It’s almost impossible.
On eBay there’s another interesting thing going on – many people sell personalised items with popular bands, TV stars and other famous people on them. I’m talking about products like:
- Nail stickers
- Phone cases
- Birthday cards
Just do a search on eBay for “One Direction” and you’ll see what I mean.
Here’s the bad news – this is illegal too! You can’t just take an image of One Direction from Google Images, attach it to a mug and start selling!
This will also apply to any logos, Disney characters, movie stars and so on.
To use any such intellectual property (IP), you would have to get written permission from the IP owner – be it a movie studio, band or company. And guess what, they’ll want their cut from any such deal.
Can it be done? I’m sure it can but it won’t be easy, especially for small time traders. Usually IP holders will want a fixed lump sum for you to even start using their design PLUS an on-going fee for each item you sell. There could also be quality control involved on goods you produce, regular reports and so on. NOT EASY!
Does this apply only to images/photos? No! Even if you create a cartoon drawing of Michael Jackson, the same rules apply and you would still have to get permission to use such images on your products.
While eBay is full of people who have been doing this for years without getting caught, don’t think it can’t happen. If you do some research online you’ll find plenty of cases where IP holders sue the seller to get money for all items sold in the past + a fine & court fees.
These are serious crimes and can even land you jail time if you do this on a large enough scale. So just don’t do it!
That’s it for today – not the most positive news I know, but I just thought many of you would be interested to know what’s behind this wholesale Disney character business. If you want to sell such items, go for genuine, licensed stuff to avoid any problems.