Resell, resell, resell! Etsy buys Depop
The retail space may still be recovering from some post Covid (& Brexit) turbulence, ecommerce continues to buck the trend. Etsy has acquired Depop, the British resale fashion platform, for a casual $1.6bn (£1.15bn). Trading and reselling vintage or recycled clothing online has now become a several multi-billion dollar market, but a multitude of IP issues come with it.
Not all products sold on platforms like Depop (or Etsy) are genuine. That great deal on a second-hand handbag could easily be a counterfeit or unlicensed product in disguise.
Authentication methods vary with platforms - RealReal claims to currently have the most rigorous authentication process - and the technology is constantly evolving. Brand owners cannot control the resale market - or the authenticity of their branded products being sold, causing a major concern for infringement of the brand's IP rights.
Resold products may include a genuine product. They may not be licensed for an alternative use. This issue was considered in the recent Satan Shoes case involving Nike and is currently being considered in the context of Chanel jewellery - it affects a wide range of products.
While major brands can't, in most circumstances, stop buyers from reselling authentic products online, they can enforce their IP protection if the sellers modifying, manipulating or recreating their product or reselling on more of a bulk basis. As the size of the resale market grows, this becomes more difficult for brands to control.
Interesting times are ahead and this is definitely a major growth market and a merger to watch for the future.
To find out more about the issues raised in this case including trade mark disputes and filing contact Rosie Burbidge, Intellectual Property Partner at Gunnercooke LLP in London - firstname.lastname@example.org
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