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

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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. Today 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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year 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.


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