This is probably a silly question... but any advice would be appreciated.
I've noticed a lot of the products I'm looking at sourcing from alibaba are actually designer products that are found on other websites. What are the legalities of purchasing these products?
Also, if I see a design online, am I allowed to forward this to a manufacturer to have made up so i can sell in Australia? Or is this going to get me into trouble?
Very illegal on both counts. You're only allowed to sell your own original designs anywhere in the World. The Chinese laws on copyright within their own country are lax which is how they manage to continue selling other people's designs but it's 100% illegal.
As someone who has, and is still, getting my designs copied, I will aggressively pursue resellers and take legal action so speaking from experience, it's not worth it. As a rule of thumb, if these items and their prices seem too good to be true, they are.
You can't, sadly. They've ignored every request I've ever sent them and they're untouchable by the UK legal system, which is why I pursue the re-sellers so hard. I've had a few items pulled on Alibaba by getting the re-sellers to demand refunds, so that's sometimes worth a try. My heart goes out to you though, it's horrible to experience. Good luck!
I've always send them a friendly little message and ask them to remove immediately and have been successful on all accounts - just tell them its your intellectual property rights and you have an agency keeping an eye on it.
It's worth looking at Pixsy who scours the internet for your images - as does Google now if you right click on an image.