Can you brand and sell unbranded items that are copies made in Asia?

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Can you brand and sell unbranded items that are copies made in Asia?

If a company in Asia makes a product that is unbranded but identical to one made, branded and sold in the USA, can a company rebrand it a different brand, import it and sell it under the new brand?

Asked on February 24, 2012 under Business Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the product is "identical" (or even near identical or highly similar) to one made in the U.S., then the Chinese manufacturer is almost certainly violating the U.S. company's intellectual property (such as copyright, trademark, and/or patent). If you then import and resell--even if you rebrand--you are also violating this intellectual property and also likely engaging in unfair competition, such as under the Lanham Act. What you describe is illegal--it is done, of course, but then, many people commit crimes; the fact that you've probably seen this done does not make it any less illegal.


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