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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 31787
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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We want to gather various used soft drink bottle caps and recycle

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We want to gather various used soft drink bottle caps and recycle them into a work of art or craft product for resale to retail stores. The caps will be flattened and, since they will be "used" and flattened, they will appear to be old. Many of the logos, like "Coca Cola" will be apparent on most of these caps. Are there any legal aspects of these logos that would prevent us from moving forward with this idea.
Jim Carroll
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm an Intellectual Property litigation attorney. Thanks for choosing JA! I'll be glad to assist you.

Generally, the "First Sale Doctrine" would allow for something like this. Under this doctrine, a basic exception to the copyright/trademark holder's distribution right is carved out. Essentially, once the work is lawfully sold or even transferred gratuitously, the copyright/trademark owner's interest in the material object in which the copyrighted/trademarked work is embodied is exhausted.

However, this doesn't mean you wouldn't be sued by Coca-Cola or the other trademark owners, but it would give you a defense to any claims made against you. These type of cases are very fact-sensitive, so there's no absolute about whether you would be safe or not - - UNLESS you get permission from the owner of the trademark. However, several successful claims under the First Sale Doctrine have been upheld in courts throughout the country.

Thus, the only way to be 100% safe is to get permission from the owner, but if you don't and are sued, you have a defense available to you under the First Sale Doctrine . Here's a link you can read regarding this law:
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Good job Kirk. My atty was less informative than you. He did not mention "first sale" concept, but did say there should be not a problem in proceeding with our idea. Of course, anybody can sue or be sued.


Jim Carroll

No problem. Glad to help. Please let me know if you have any additional question.

Have a great day!