Legal Question in Intellectual Property in New Hampshire

Product Usage

I have an idea that includes using fabric softner. If i wanted to buy the fabric softner (Downey or Whatever brand I choose) in bulk, place it in a smaller container and sell it under another label for a differnet application other than fabric softner am I violating patent laws?

Asked on 8/26/99, 10:34 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Re: Product Usage

No you would not be violating patent laws in my off-hand opinion. I think there's a doctrine called 'novel use' on this subject. The classic example is that an aspirin thrown into a vase makes a rose live longer. However, in this case, by buying from Downey, I don't think you'd be violating a patent even if you sold it as fabric softener! But don't use their name without their permission!

(I'm darn curious. Write to me privately at [email protected] if you want to tell me what you are doing. Maybe we'll even get YOU a patent for your novel use, which would be your next step if your idea can be made a commercial success, but be sure to preserve your rights and think legally right from the git-go!

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Answered on 8/27/99, 12:28 am
Bruce Burdick Burdick Law Firm

Re: Product Usage

I agree with my colleague. This is not likely to infringe patent or trademark. The doctrine involved is "exhaustion of rights" or "first sale doctrine." You do need to be thinking about getting your own patent.

For the reason why see my article at

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Answered on 8/27/99, 11:19 am

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