Is it legal for me to put my label in thrift store cosmetic/make-up bags without labels, or cut out a no name label that is in there, and re-brand it as my own?

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Is it legal for me to put my label in thrift store cosmetic/make-up bags without labels, or cut out a no name label that is in there, and re-brand it as my own?

I have a passion for cosmetic /makeup bags and small unique purses. I find them at the thrift stores. I am not buying any name brand. All bags I find have no tag , a home made tag or a made in china tag in it. I want to put my label or cut out a no name label that is in there (not a trademark), In my business plan I am not attemting to take ownership of the bag. I am attempting to recycle, create and encouragement. My goal and business plan is to recycle the bag, clean it up, decorate it and add a small story to it. Each bag will have a story and my label is called “Revived To Tell Her Story”. It this legal for me to add my label with this concept?

Asked on June 30, 2015 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the design of the bag is itself trademarked or at least is recognizable as to source (the way Louis Vuitton bags are), or there is any embossed label on the inside or outside of the bag (like with Coach bags), then this would be illegal, because in those cases, by putting your label on trademarked or otherwise-identifiable-as-to-source bag, you would be creating a link between your product and the original one, which would violate trademark (no one may market, adapt, etc. another's trademarked product without permission) and/or be considered "unfair competition" (piggy backing on another's marketing, advertising, etc. investments). Only if the bag is truly anonymous as to source would this idea be legal.


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