Am I protected as a reseller if my products have copyrighted logos?

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Am I protected as a reseller if my products have copyrighted logos?

Hello,

I’m currently in the process of setting up an apparel company. Some of the
products that I would like to sell have a foreign music bands logo on the
products. I will not be manufacturing these products. Only buying and reselling
from a number of Chinese manufacturers. Am I protected under the first sales
doctrine as a sole proprietor? If not would restructuring as an LLC help?

Thank you in advance,

Kris

Asked on January 27, 2017 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you are not protected: someone who resells or redistributes products in *breach* of copyright or trademark, even if they don't manufacture them, is still liable for breach of copyright (or trademark). The doctrine to which you refer allows you to resell material which was sold with the copyright or trademark owner's permission (e.g. was licensed), despite the fact you personally did not have or obtain their permission.
Having an LLC can protect you personally from being sued, assuming you maintain a separation between you and the LLC (e.g. you maintain separate bank accounts, do not comingle funds, and only sue LLC funds or accounts for LLC purposes), but the LLC could still be sued for violating another's intellectual property.


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