Can you be hit with trademark infringement for reselling a purchased item?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can you be hit with trademark infringement for reselling a purchased item?

I sell my own art. One of the things I do is
purchase a bulk pack of BIC brand lighters
directly from BIC. I print my art onto vinyl
sticker wraps and cover the lighters then
resell them. New Link Destination
day I was contacted by a legal
represenative for BIC saying I’ve done
trademark infringement. Am I protected by first
sale doctrine? Is there any way I can continue
to sell these as they are a good bit of my
business profit.

Asked on August 23, 2019 under Business Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The first sale doctrine only protects you from reselling the item as you bought it, without using it as the basis for your own creative or graphic work. If you incorporate their trademark into your own work, including by having their trademark in or on an item including your own graphic or creative work, then you are in fact infringing their trademark. You cannot use their trademark in any way as part of your own work.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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