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Recycling of a product which has a trademark or logo Trademark

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by larry8811, May 30, 2011.

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  1. larry8811

    larry8811 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    As a fun thing to do, I started making beer hats, very nice quality, out of empty bottled beer six-pack boxes, like Miller or Budweiser, etc. FYI, it takes 3 boxes to make one hat. Some friends have suggested that I should be selling these, but we have disagreement about whether we would be doing some kind of trademark or logo infringement. My position is that when I bought the beer I also bought the box, it is my box to do with as I please, and there are no printed restrictions on the box. It's not like I'm using the beer companies' logos and printing them on t-shirts, for example; I'm using their actual and entire box. Opinions?
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    That's a great question. I think it's very clever. With regard to copyright, here is a related rule which might be what you're referring to:

    This is an excerpt from Wikipedia concerning The First Sale Doctrine

    Copyright, as the name suggests, is the right to copy a work of some form. If one resells or gives as a gift a book (or CD or DVD) that one has bought, a new copy has not been made, therefore it is legal under US copyright law.

    With reference to trade in tangible merchandise, such as the retailing of goods bearing a trademark, the "first sale" rule serves to immunize a reseller from infringement liability. Such protection to the reseller extends to the point where said goods have not been altered so as to be materially different from those originating from the trademark owner.


    But let's talk about trademark law. Does Budweiser or Miller have a case? Maybe... I haven't really given this a tremendous amount of thought or looked into what you're making, etc. The question of trademark law is whether there would be a likelihood of confusion as to the origin of goods. But I'm not even sure the issue of right and wrong is dispositive of the issue. Perhaps they may sue you if you get large enough and my guess is that they will send you a cease and desist letter if that happens, regardless of what a court would ultimately decide. If you're selling very small amounts and not in very visible places, they quite possibly wouldn't bother with you.

    There are some other ideas that I have where you might be able to win some protection -- if this is a "process" it may be worthwhile to get a provisional patent on the process and then bring it to the attention of the beer companies that you can sell these great hats, marketed and approved with them, which help recycle and promote positive values. I'm thinking out of the box but this might be worth investigating.

    I love innovation. Those are my thoughts and it's probable that this matter will need more than just a forum response. Best of luck with this. Love it. :)
     

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