Can I legally sell a product I create if it has another company's logo? 9 Answers as of June 19, 2013

I've developed a product out of recycled bottle caps with beer companies' logos on them. They've sold well as a hobby business, and I'd like to make it a recognized legal business with a website, legal documents, etc. My question is whether it's actually legal for me to sell my product if it has the beer bottle caps with other companies' logos on them. I am just using the recycled bottle caps, though it does have the trademarked company logo. For what it's worth, I have been inserting business cards that state I have no affiliation with any of the breweries. No clue if that does anything. Thanks in advance!

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Gerald Walsh | Gerald Walsh
Probably ok because the bottle caps were purchased in the ordinary stream of commerce as part of the product. However, you cannot do anything that would damage the value of the logo.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 6/19/2013
Loren Lambert
Loren Lambert | Loren Lambert
You cannot sell a product that has another company's logo on it even with the disclaimer. You're going to get sued and you will loose and have to pay damages. I would stop immediately.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 6/19/2013
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
If these are "found" objects that have been disposed of, you can use them to create a new product and sell it. However, expanding beyond a hobby may require that you obtain far more caps than are available. Which probably means purchasing unused caps directly from the companies. They may be willing to sell them to you but you lose control of a crucial part of your product. You also need to be aware of placing the companies in a false light based on the products you create with their caps.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 6/19/2013
Eminent IP, P.C.
Eminent IP, P.C. | Paul C. Oestreich
It is not entirely clear from your presentation of the facts precisely what your product is, other than it is made from recycled beer bottle caps that have the logos of the original beer bottles on them. The correct answer to your question depends on a number of factors including: (1) the scope of the trademark owner's trademark rights, (2) their description of goods for such trademarks or likely markets for them to expand into (if they are sufficiently famous), (3) whether such scope of trademark rights covers your product, (4) how many different trademarks are represented in your product, *e.g.*, just one trademark or multiple beer trademarked names, and many other factors that may have a bearing on whether or not there is a likelihood of confusion between you selling your product and the original trademark owners as to source and ownership of your goods. Your disclaimer on your business card is a good idea, because it explicitly removes confusion at least for those consumers that read the disclaimer and preferably before purchasing your product. Accordingly, I would suggest you consult an intellectual property attorney to fully explore the facts of your particular situation so that the attorney can properly advise you based on current case law.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 6/18/2013
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
The disclaimer is a good idea - so it should continue. The law is mixed in this area. If all of the bottle caps were from one beer (e.g., Guinness) - then the owner of the trademark might complain - as your product could be mistaken as originating from Guinness. Having a mixture of many different beers eliminates this "likelihood of confusion" - which is the legal standard that forms the basis for trademark infringement cases.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 6/18/2013
    Webb IP Law Group
    Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
    Generally speaking, as long as one make it clear that they are not representing or affiliated with the companies, one can resell their products that have been legally acquired from them. Exceptions to this might include if you are libelous or slanderous in how you do it.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/18/2013
    Michael M. Ahmadshahi
    Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
    Unauthorized use of a registered/unregistered trademark is a violation, therefore the beer companies could file suit against you for using their trademarks without permission, regardless of whether or not you disclaim any affiliation with those companies.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/18/2013
    Mark S. Hubert PC
    Mark S. Hubert PC | Mark Hubert
    Once you purchase a product you can do with it what you please provided it is not something that will cause the consumer to believe that the item that you are selling originates from the other company or that it somehow casts their products in a bad light.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/18/2013
    Law Office of Kirk Buhler
    Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
    Because someone purchased the bottle caps at one time the company that made the bottle caps has been compensated. That generally allows you to use the bottle caps. You indicate that you provide a card stating you have not affiliation with any breweries. As long as you do not create harm to the breweries by making negative statements you should be fine to continue your practice. The breweries should be happy, because you provide advertising and without people purchasing the beer, there would not be any bottle caps.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/18/2013
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