Can I use another company’s retail product as the basis for a product of my own?

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Can I use another company’s retail product as the basis for a product of my own?

Specific example: Company A has a dish detergent, which has no patents associated with it. I take that product, A, and change its (1) concentration and also add (2) my own grease dissolver and (3) my own hand softener and market it as product B. Product A has been changed to the point that is not recognizable by the senses, at the lease, and also may not be recognizable chemically. So, in other words, I am using A as base stock in a new formula. What is the legality of this concept.

Asked on January 13, 2014 under Business Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

Brook Miscoski / Hurr Law Office PC

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

What you're asking is whether you can buy another company's product and then repackage it as your own. If you bought retail, it's difficult for me to understand how the economics could work, so I'm going to assume that you're asking (1) whether you can buy from a supplier and then rebrand the product; and (2) whether it makes any difference if you change the product in some way.

Simply rebranding the product is going to violate various laws which prohibit the misbranding or alteration of the branding of items in interstate commerce, and it's likely to violate the agreements that the supplier has with you (I assume you're acquiring the stuff legitimately).

It's also insane, since you can find suppliers who will sell you a product to specs under your own private label.

In terms of altering the product--I don't think that changes the picture all that much, although it does introduce the interesting fact that since you don't actually know the chemical composition and so forth, I'm not sure how you could accurately label the product.

Again, it's insane since there's a "right way" to do this.


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