I would like to know if I can legally sell a product on-line if I copy the shape/size of an original?

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I would like to know if I can legally sell a product on-line if I copy the shape/size of an original?

I would like to know if I order a headliner made of vinyl for a specific make/mode/year of automobile cut leather, suede, etc. in the same size and shape as the original vinyl piece, am I infringing upon any ones rights If I then sell the leather headliner on a web site?

Asked on February 4, 2011 under Business Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Two different issues:

1) If the shape, design, etc. of the original piece is protected in some fashion--e.g. it is covered by a design patent, a copyright, or a trademarke (or more than one), then you can't copy those features which are protected by intellectual property law. So you need to do your homework and see what sorts of registrations or intellectual property protections have been asserted in this piece. To the extent it is not protected by a design patent, etc., you can model your headliner on it, subject to the below:

2) You need to make sure that they way you design, market, and sell your pieced does not suggest it is approved by, authorized by, being made in conjunction with or by, etc. the original manufacturer. If you do create confusion as to the source, you will be violating the Lanham Act and engagin in a prohibited form of unfair competition.


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