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Author Topic: Is it legal to sell a repackaged item?  (Read 1009 times)

americanmoviecollectibles

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Is it legal to sell a repackaged item?
« on: 10-14-16 at 05:20 pm »

Hello,

I have recently met a man at the Pasadena Rose Bowl swap meet, which occurs once a month. This person was reselling a novelty item that is a small clear plastic freestanding desktop item (5" long x 3" tall) that holds and showcases a section of 35mm film from the Disney movie Peter Pan. (I would attach a picture but I am having trouble find a way to do that on this forum. The "attachments and other options" link below my post does not offer me any attachment options.) Along with the visible film section of 2 frames of film, which is the main purpose of the item, the majority of the plastic item shows a marketing picture of the film as well at contains wording describing the item, showing the manufacturer's name as well as the Disney name.

During my conversation with the seller, he explained that the manufacturer had gone out of business, and he had acquired much of the inventory. He said that many of the plastic pieces had turned from clear to yellow and he was not selling the items that were in that condition. He showed me one. You could see the film, but is was not clear like it was suppose to be. I assume that this drove the manufacturer out of business. I asked him if he had plans for the yellowed items and if he was interested in selling them. He said yes. He also told me that he had about 40 boxes filled with just the sections of film, each section made up of 2 frames of 35mm film. I asked how many were in a box. He did not know for sure but estimated between 50,000 and 80,000 sections of film.

So my question is this. If I were to acquire the ruined plastic items, remove the section of film, throw the ruined plastic part in the trash and place the section of film into a plain white slide mount (same mounts as those that go into a slide projector), can I legally resell these Disney items? Is this similar to buying a music CD, accidentally breaking or losing the plastic case that it came in, putting the CD into a generic clear plastic CD case, and then selling that CD to another person or music store (when music stores existed)? Music stores always sold used CD, and sometimes without the original case.

Also, my thoughts on the boxes of individual sections of 35mm film are similar. I would be interested in placing them in the same generic white plastic slide mount and reselling them for what they are, 35mm film sections from the Disney film Peter Pan. Would I need to explain in my sales description that these were obtained, by way, from the defunct manufacturer?

Thanks,

Jeff

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Robert K S

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Re: Is it legal to sell a repackaged item?
« Reply #1 on: 10-14-16 at 05:40 pm »

What you are seeking is legal advice and an Internet forum is really not the place to get it.  Consult an IP lawyer for advice you can rely on.  What follows is not advice but my own musings on your hypothetical which you are not to rely upon.

While I don't sense any patent or copyright issues in the scenario you describe, marking the products with the Disney name (as was done with the existing products in your description) without the appropriate license and control could give rise to a trademark issue.  This INTA page describes famous mark protection and this Wikipedia page describes dilution.  The name "DISNEY" undoubtedly qualifies for famous name protection and thus its use--even in a non-competing good--might be actionable.  Again, talk to an attorney.
« Last Edit: 10-14-16 at 05:42 pm by Robert K S »
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americanmoviecollectibles

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Re: Is it legal to sell a repackaged item?
« Reply #2 on: 10-14-16 at 06:27 pm »

Robert,

I appreciate your reply and thoughts. I figured as much and assumed it best to not place any labeling on the slide mounts. However, I had planned to explain in a written description that the item is a section of 35mm film from a Disney feature film, as well add a written footnote explaining the history of the section of film and that it was originally part of a manufactured novelty item, removed and repackaged due to damage to the original plastic housing.

Jeff
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artchain

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Re: Is it legal to sell a repackaged item?
« Reply #3 on: 10-14-16 at 08:53 pm »

On the surface, I don't see any problem with reselling legally acquired original film cells - although it begs the question of whether they ARE legally acquired original film cells, or illegal copies.

In any case, I second Robert's recommendation to consult an IP attorney, especially when dealing with Disney materials.

Disney has a reputation for aggressively defending their IP, and going after small, mom-and-pop businesses.  There's a saying, "Don't mess with the mouse."
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americanmoviecollectibles

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Re: Is it legal to sell a repackaged item?
« Reply #4 on: 10-15-16 at 01:48 am »

Thanks for the replies. From what I gather, the burden falls onto the creator to prove the item is an illegal copy. Also, I would think that if Disney never cut 35mm film to sell in any form, nor ever authorized any other company to do the same, then they would rightly argue that no person or entity could ever sell any 35mm film since the physical film itself is usually "on loan" to theaters and is suppose to be returned. It is "studio property" However, once film is cut into sections and sold in a display case, Disney can't put the toothpaste back into the tube, right? Isn't the burden of proof on them?

If I go to a garage sale and buy a music CD, then a year later I see it at my garage sale, I do not have to prove who or where I bought it and I have the right to sell it, right? Isn't this issue the same, with the exception of putting the loose film into a protective holder before I sell it? A slide mount is no different than an envelope or one of those plastic sleeved binder pages? It is a way to preserve the film and keep fingerprints off of it.

Jeff
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