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Hi, I live in CA and have a question about online business.

Resolved Question:

Hi,

I live in CA and have a question about online business. I am thinking of the possibility of doing an online business (selling organic/healthy products to Asia). Products maybe like beauty products like Burt's Bees facial cleaner, or any other brands hand cream etc. My question is that:

a. can I show those products in my own business website? do I need to get approval for example from Burt's Bees first?
b. if my Asian customer wants to buy 10 to 20 pcs such facial cleaner, and if I buy the products from local supermarket/drugstore and ship to Asia, can I do this? or are there any legal issues involved? not sure whether I need to get any approval from Burt's Bees etc?
c. if I need legal advice in future in CA, are there any places here can provide free prelim business law consultation?

Thank you very much for your advice.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Fran-mod replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I’m a moderator for this topic and I wonder whether you’re still waiting for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will do my best to find an Expert to assist you right away. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you. Thank you!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am still waiting answer
Expert:  Fran-mod replied 2 years ago.
Sometimes, finding the right Expert can take a little longer than expected and we thank you greatly for your understanding. We’ll be in touch again shortly.
Expert:  Michael replied 2 years ago.
Hi there, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a business law attorney with experience in all aspects of business law. I'll do my best to assist you.

Generally speaking:

1. You are allowed to show the products you are selling. You could face liability for using trademarked or copyrighted material, such as logos or advertisements. You you could face liability or simply be prevented from using trademarked material for advertising purposes (for example, Google will often prevent you from using certain trademarked keywords for advertising with AdWords). However, you can generally take a picture of your product and state that is the product your are selling, as well as name it and describe it.

2. There is nothing that generally would prevent you from purchasing an item at a store and selling it overseas in terms of liability to the manufacturer, without any other agreement. Often, if you purchase a product from a distributor or manufacturer, you will be required to sign a contract where you agree to restrict sales to a given geographic region. Violation of those terms could be a cause of action. However, if you're just purchasing them from a store without any agreement that would not apply.

You would likely need to focus more on the import restriction of a consumable product like cosmetics in the foreign country, as well as the nature of international business transactions.

3. There are free legal resources online such as nolo.com and both private and government business administration websites. Some attorneys might provide a free initial consultation. However business law is not an area with a great deal of pro bono activity. You'd likely need to pay something for any fact-specific legal guidance in that field.

I hope this answer has been helpful. I'd be happy to further clarify my response and follow up with any other questions. If you're satisfied with my answer, remember to hit the "accept" button. Bonuses and positive feedback are always appreciated! -Michael
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thank you.

Can U please clarify more on:

Q1: I am allowed to show the products I am selling but I could face liability for using trademarked or copyrighted material. Can U give me an example to what extent I can show my products without copyright infringement? So if I sell Burt's Bees'cleaning cream in MY OWN website for example, http://www.burtsbees.com/natural-products/face-care-facial-cleansers/soap-bark-chamomile-deep-cleansing-cream.html, is it that I have to take a picture of my product myself, and write a different description than that on Burt's Bee's link? would appreciate if you can give me some detail advice to be safe from liability. Thanks.

Q2: Regards XXXXX XXXXX of a consumable product like cosmetics in the foreign country, as well as the nature of international business transactions, where can I get help from? if I want to check. I saw this Burt's Bee products when I traveled to HK years ago, so does it mean that HK already allow import of such products that I don't need to further check?

Other question: I am thinking of starting this organic/natural beauty products export to Asia (home business). I plan to buy products from local retail store (NOT from wholesaler) upon receiving customers' orders. Will there be any limit, restriction or liability regards XXXXX XXXXX per order? for example, can I ship 50pcs or 100pcs if orders grow in future? Not sure whether this type of online export business is popular nowadays?

Thank you very much!


Expert:  Michael replied 2 years ago.
1. Yes, to avoid any infringement action, you have to take a picture of the product your are selling, and show it and state it as such. You could not use any of their images or text without risking copyright infringement. Just the same, using their logo or brand outside of describing what you are selling risks trademark infringement.

How difficult it might be just depends on how strict the IP rights holder wants to make it. IP protection in this case is entirely up to the rights holder. They might not care much how a small private seller resells and promotes their products and do little. Any enforcement costs time and money, after all. Other companies can be very strict, and fire off a cease and desist letter at the drop of a hat, hiring a firm to constantly search the internet for infringers (that's uncommon but some high-value trademarks demand it). You should see if you can find what others are saying about Burt's Bees and any other products you'd like to sell. People would post on forums for example about their experiences selling the products. That can give you an idea about what to expect. Of course, contacting an attorney with your specific facts and having them reviewed and advised based on that is the best way to avoid liability.

2. It's not so much about whether they're allowed in based on the brand, as that probably wouldn't be an issue with something unregulated. It's just about avoiding any excessive hassles or fees, as well as product labeling requirements, etc. Finding a good partner in the foreign marketing and getting them to handle such matters is often a good way to deal with it.

There are generally no limits on exports. If there are any restrictions in a foreign country, you'd have to contact an attorney in that foreign country.
Michael, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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