Hi 98steps. It's true that heaps of companies get their stuff made in china. It's also true that chinese manufactorers bootleg alot of the stuff that them are making for a company. You can buy lots of items that come with the right boxes, tags and certificates that are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing. More than likely you are going to get one of two things. A good fake, or an un-authorized over run. An un-authorized over run is simply when a designer company gives the manufactor a template mold and material and tells them to produce 500,000 units of the item, Then the manufacturer runs 600,000. They give the parent company the 500,000 and the mold back, then sell the other 100,000 to buyers like you and me. If it's a very popular item, they will usually make an excellent copy of the mold and or designs and continue to produce them.
As far as ebay, they don't allow any type of replica to be sold according to the rules and guidelines. However, enforcement is somewhat questionable. If a 'vero', complains about your item, it will be pulled instantly, no questions asked, and you will be given anything from a warning, up to a suspension.
If a member reports you, using the 'report' button located at the bottom of every auction listing, an ebay staff member will take a look a the listing, and then make a decision, based on what they see in the listing. Ebay mainly depends on other ebay members to report fake or replica listings. That's both bad and good, as some sellers just use it to help reduce the competition, and they mainly target new and low feedback sellers.
As far as dropshipping, I know that's a good way for someone starting out with a low budget, HOWEVER, you can be putting your business and feedback at RISK, if you choose the wrong dropshipper to deal with. The reason is that you will have virtually no control over the shipping time to the customer, the quality of the item, (it might not be exact quality item that you saw in their photo). Try to ask around to other members and see who they recommend that are reliable and give good customer service.
Alot of times you will have an item listed, a customer will buy it and then when you notify the dropshipper, you will receive a notice saying that that item is out of stock. And then your customer is not going to be happy when they have not received their item in a timely manner. Some will be understanding, but some will leave you a negative feedback.
A good way to protect yourself, is to keep a few of the items on hand, (at your house) and if the dropshipper runs out, then you are covered.
Too, think about having several 'streams' of incomes. That is, if you are selling shirts, think about having another line of goods also, such as shoes, pants or golf clubs, etc. That way if your source suddenly dries up, you will still have revenue coming in while you search for another product to replace the one you lost.
It takes a bit of homework, (research and planning) to be successful, but it will pay back in dividens in the long run. Hope this is helpful..