Intellectual Property Law
Ask an Intellectual Property Lawyer. Get an Answer ASAP.
Hello, I will be assisting you
The answer to this simple question is not simple and not straight forward (as many times in the law). So let give you an overview of the relevant legal issues here and you'll be able to see for yourself
The Supreme court has recently expanded this right to lawfully purchased products from outside the US.
Under the first-sale doctrine if you lawfully purchase a product in the US you have the right to do what you wish with that product including re-sellling
Companies protect their products through patents and trademarks. A patent or a design trademark or trade dress mark protect products in the market place from unlawful imitation and confusion. Specifically trademarks protect consumers from confusion in the market place by similar products.
I understand that I can resell it, but can I take a "ABC" brand vacuum cleaner, change some parts in it, change packaging and labeling, and sell it as my own.
please bear with me as I lay out the foundation
no worries. I had to introduce several concepts to make a certain point which I will make shortly
Under the Lanham Act, the concept of “Reverse Passing Off” is derived from the statutory language in § 43(a) prohibiting a “false designation of origin” that is likely to cause consumer confusion and generally happens when one company puts out another company’s product as its own
I need to briefly log off and reboot for 5 minutes. I will continue with my conclusion when I relog.
ok, sounds good
The Lanham act discusses origin of the product as a possible cause of consumer confusion (origin is not where the product came from but who the product came from i.e. who manufactured the product). Though a recent Supreme Court case narrowed the scope of “reverse passing off” to include actions of complete appropriation of another’s products, stripping off the identifying marks, and then selling the product as one’s own, the risk remains in that the scope of what is permitted or not it evaluated on a case by case basis
In conclusion, in theory you can take an existing product improve it, re-brand it and resell it provided the new product does not create confusion in consumers and of course provided the new product also complies with patent, copyrights and other rights that the original manufacturer has. Confusion can be attributed to many elements such as looks (the two products look the same), features, peripheral equipment that both share etc.
So your goal is to create a new product that is recognized in the mind of consumers as being a completely different product.
Thank you for allowing me to assist you.
I'll be back, phone call
I'm back, reviewing your response now.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).