Legal Question in Intellectual Property in New Hampshire

Unauthorized advertising of product on website

What can I do about a former distributor who continues to display my copyrighted product and description page on their website. There was never any signed contract for this distributor to sell the product, which was all returned to me several months ago. When you search for my product, their website comes up along with my website. Some customers have gone to their site instead of mine, and although they are no longer able to sell my product, they are likely trying to sell their own products instead. I have emailed them to remove it, and if it is not removed in a short period of time, what should I do?

Asked on 8/13/03, 1:24 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Lawrence Graves Coolidge & Graves PLLC

Re: Unauthorized advertising of product on website

This is actually a stronger case in trademark than in copyright -- they could easily create new materials on their site offering your product for sale that would not infringe upon the copyright of your advertising materials. Since your goal is to prevent a "bait-and-switch" sale of competing products, your best remedy is in trademark/unfair competition. First step would be a "cease and desist" letter from a lawyer, and, if they ignore it, filing a complaint in federal district court. Nice thing about federal trademark law is that you can get attorneys' fees as well as damages in cases of willful infringement.

Best wishes,


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Answered on 8/13/03, 10:46 am

Re: Unauthorized advertising of product on website

Have an intellectual property attorney send a cease and desist letter. If that doesn't work, file suit for copyright infringement.

I'm a California intellectual property attorney and law school professor with a nationwide practice.

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Answered on 8/13/03, 1:00 pm
Martin Jenkins Martin Jenkins PLLC

Re: Unauthorized advertising of product on website

Your legal position depends on what protections you have already put in place for your intellectual propertyŚcopyright registration? Trademark registration? Nothing?

But regardless of your legal position, the first step, as in all such disputes, is to communicate clearly your desires to the other side. Perhaps a formal cease-and-desist letter is appropriate, but perhaps you might start with a simpler letter just laying out what your position and what you want them to do and when. Depending on their response you might need bigger guns, but perhaps not.

Also, whatever you do about this immediate problem, consider beefing up your intellectual property protections so any future disputes can be handled more easily.

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Answered on 8/13/03, 1:12 pm

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