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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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


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,


Asked on January 27, 2017 under Business Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption