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CaseLaw
CaseLaw, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 1294
Experience:  BCom; LLB; Masters in Law
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My company (In Cape Town, South Africa) imports

Customer Question

My company (In Cape Town, South Africa) imports refrigeration compressor replacement/non-genuine parts such as pistons, conrods, valve assemblies etc. For a wide variety of manufacturers compressors. These parts are not manufactured by use of the original manufacturers drawings but by either reverse engineering or some other processes.
We are currently setting up a website with online shop and my questions before we proceed are as follows:
1. Can I display a picture of each individual part with description. These pictures will be our own and not copies of the original manufacturers. It will be used to show the product physical appearance only.
2. I obviously need to use the manufacturers make & model numbers as reference to which model it fits. Keep in mind I will have a disclaimer on front page that "all parts are are non-genuine. Any use of the original manufacturers names and model numbers are for reference only. We "our company name" has no affiliation with these manufacturers ". Is the use of the make and model ok?. Can I use dimensions as well?
3. Is there any other issues I need to consider or disclaimers I would need to include on the website.
We did have an issue in the past with a compressor that looked identical to another manufacturer and it fell into the category of "passing-off". We.have no intention of marketing these parts as genuine and will inform our online customers of this. I know that reverse engineered parts are legal however parts created by using the technical drawings is not. I do not want an issue with the sale of these parts online. Please be sure to include anything that could aid avoiding this.
kind regards,
Andrew
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  CaseLaw replied 1 year ago.

Hi there and thank you for your question,

As long as you are not attempting to pass off your products as original products, you should be fine. You obviously can't use their branding and logos, but you can make references to their model numbers, etc on your website. Dimensions are also fine.

You can also display a picture of each item, but my advice is that you have somebody take a picture and use that picture. Don't use one of the "original" pictures.

You should ensure that the disclaimer is actually viewable at the bottom of each page on your website - in the footer. That should provide you with the protection that you want.

Your issue in the past was because your compressor had been manufactured to look identical to another manufacturer's compressor. In the above example this is not what you want to do. You want to make parts that are identical, but brand them as "non-genuine replacement parts". That's fine!

To avoid any future challenges, you should keep evidence of how you created the parts. You may need that as evidence in 10 years time should you need to prove it, or worse - go to court!

If my answer hasn't answered all of your questions, please send me a REPLY with follow up questions so that I can continue to assist you in this same thread for as long as you need. Let me know if you need more advice - don't just rate my answer as "bad".

If my are HAPPY with my answer then please click one of the SMILEY FACES to rate my answer and then click the GREEN ACCEPT button to accept the answer.

Good luck and best regards,

CaseLaw

Please note: This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult a local attorney in person for legal advice. This information is being provided so you can better discuss legal matters with your attorney.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the reply.
You mentioned that I will need proof of how the parts have been manufactured. I am not having these parts manufactured they are freely available for purchase from countries like USA, Japan, China, India etc. I know they usually manufacture by "reverse engineering" however I have no input or influence regarding the manufacturing process (Just importing)
Am I able to use some sizes for reference purposes and use the Original manufactures model number so as to describe which brand and model it will fit?
1 more question regarding our parts and products....
I have a range of compressors that has exactly the same capacities, technical specification etc however does not look identical to another brand nor is the colour, model number etc the same as the other brand. Could these technical specifications etc be considered legally offensive if advertised on our website. The compressor is similar however the casing (body) has been moulded differently to take rectangle heads instead of oval heads. There is no way it could be passed off as the other brand.
Kind regards,
Andrew
Expert:  CaseLaw replied 1 year ago.

Am I able to use some sizes for reference purposes and use the Original manufactures model number so as to describe which brand and model it will fit? --> YES.

I have a range of compressors that has exactly the same capacities, technical specification etc however does not look identical to another brand nor is the colour, model number etc the same as the other brand. Could these technical specifications etc be considered legally offensive if advertised on our website --> No. The specs can't be legally offensive. The specs are the specs.

Expert:  CaseLaw replied 1 year ago.
Hi there again,
I hope that you understood the above advice and that it was useful? Please leave positive feedback for me.
If you have a further question please ask it?
Regards
CaseLaw