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new use for existing product

yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
edited June 2007 in Protecting Your Ideas
 I`ve been using an existing cleaning product for a unique use for about a year. It just dawned on me that there would be a niche market for this product if it were repackaged and sold for this particular use. I`ve searched the net and while I`ve found a lot of people asking if anyone knows of a good way to do what this product can do, no one has mentioned it. It works like a charm, and I`ve tried all of the other suggestions on line and none of them work near as well. I don`t know where to start however. I`ve contacted some of these "invention houses" and have been e-mailed confidentiallity forms, but haven`t done anything. I`m afraid that I`ll either wind up with a lot of expenses for something that is illegal to do in the first place, or they`ll steal my idea. I would have to buy this product, repackage it for this specific use, and sell it under a new name. Does anyone know if this is "legal" to do, and if so who do I talk to first ? ( the manufacturer, an attorney, one of these invention houses? I know this product would sell, as I`ve been searching for something to do this myself for many years. Any help would be appreciated greatly !


  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark subscriber Posts: 103
    stay away from invention houses.  might be patentable if the new use is not obvious based on what is already known in that field.
  • PatentGuyPatentGuy subscriber Posts: 0
    Generally, yes, you can repackage and resell someone else`s product, although you`d want to talk to an attorney to avoid stepping on certain land mines that are out there.  For example, you probably shouldn`t use the other company`s name or brand name in your own packaging or advertising, because then, depending on how you use it, you might be committing trademark infringement.  nhgnikole suggested getting the manufacturer`s permission or making your own version if it`s not patented.  Those are good suggestions.  Otherwise talk to at least a trademark attorney before proceeding, and probably a tort lawyer too, to help ensure that you`re not setting yourself up for someone getting injured by misusing the product.  BTW, you can also obtain a patent for a new use for an old product.  Good luck.
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for the advice. My concern with contacting the manufacturer is that they`ll either say that they already thought of that, or say they`re not intereseted and then market the idea themselves. For instance, if I wanted to use a Frisbee as a dinner plate. Could I package it as a dinner plate. ( let`s just assume for this scenario that it doesn`t say Frisbee anywhere on it ) What I really would like to look into would be to "patent" the idea, then present it to the manufacturer or to other companies in "this field" that might want to market it themselves and pay me a liscense fee or royalty . My plan initially was to package it myself, and open and Ebay store to sell it first, then maybe someone would contact me to bring it to market. Does that affect your opinion on whether or not I can repackage someone else`s product. The problem I may have is that this is a cleaning product, and my use is still in the cleaning area, but for a use I don`t think anyone has thought of.
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
    hey Patenttrademark,
    Thanks, I don`t think it`s an obvious use, but it is still using a cleaning product to clean something. ( I`m sorry I`m so vague, don`t want to give it away ! ) Does anyone know of what I would need to do in order to protect my idea if I did want to go to the manufacturer with the idea? This would be a definate niche market, although a pretty large niche. However the manufacturer could just add this to their claims on the package and blow me away since I`d have to purchase from them, pay to repackage etc, when their product is obviously going to cost less, and is already on the shelves. 
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
    Hey Patentguy,
    nhgnikole wrote that she doesn`t believe someone can repackage an existing item and sell it for another purpose. You wrote that you think you can. Do you think she`s incorrect or might you be, or is this area very grey? What I`m trying to do here is not spend a lot of money if there is no way I can legally do this, and/or no way I can stake a claim to this particular use for this product.
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark subscriber Posts: 103
    the only real protection is probably patent law - which ain`t free or cheap.  I don`t have a dollar figure.  If you have "discovered" that toothpaste removes lipstick or something like that, don`t bother.
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
     Hey, who told you !
    No, it`s not something you`d find in one of those books on using vinegar to get out wine stains etc. However that`s probably not a bad example. Could you package vinegar as a wine stain remover for instance?
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
    Hey James,
    I see you are a patent attorney, can I talk to you on the record ( on retainer ) about my idea and how to pursue or not to pursue it?
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for clarifying that. I appreciate everyone`s help. If you haven`t figured it out yet I`m a tad clueless at this point. There is a concern that "my use" for this product does involve use "with animals", so there would be safety concerns. I`ve not encountered any in the year I`ve used it, but I certainly would have to make sure of that before I tried to sell it. ( it doesn`t get used ON an animal by the way, and I couldn`t see how it could cause any problem the way I intend it to be used. None whatsoever ) But I would really like the manufacturer to be involved in some way as they probably can help in that area greatly.
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark subscriber Posts: 103
    I don`t think the phrase "existing product" implies that the product already "has a patent" or does not.  Further, products/things don`t have trademarks - packaging or labels display trademarks (sometimes).
  • InactiveMemberInactiveMember subscriber Posts: 12
    This is a very interesting discussion. Your concern that the original manufacturer might intiate a lawsuit is valid; I expect you would be absolutely guaranteed a lawsuit. James could probably tell you if my theory is correct or not, but I think you would be guaranteed a lawsuit on the grounds that the consumers might mistake the "new" product for the "original" product, regardless of packaging. On the other hand, with clothing for example, I think it`s perfectly legal to either resell brand-name merchandise or to remove labels and rebrand. I doubt this would apply to pharmaceuticals though, for example.
    One of the most interesting questions I`ve seen here in ages!
  • bookloverbooklover subscriber Posts: 8 Member
    Do you know the "active ingredient" that makes this product do what you want it to do?  
  • yankeestonkyankeestonk subscriber Posts: 1
    Hey All,
    Believe it or not I haven`t researched what the active ingredient is, I think that`s not a bad idea.CookieMonster, I don`t think there would be any confusing the one product for the other. It might be that a purchaser might figure it out if they already use the other product, maybe not. I`m sure someone at some point would. I really wish I could just bring the idea to the manufacturer and have them give me thier blessings because I`m buying their product to "make mine", and if I sell more they sell more. If it were only that easy. Does anyone know how to approach a company with this sort of thing? I can`t figure out any way that I can tell them my idea without opening myself to them saying not interested and then using the idea. At this point I`m not looking to get rich off this idea, if I could sell it on E-bay and make a few extra grand a month I`d be thrilled. If the idea caught on maybe I could then approach one of the bigger companies that work in this area and ask if they`d like to work with me. I don`t know, it`s so confusing. What I don`t want to have to do is spend thousands of dollars to find out that it was obvious that I couldn`t do it in the first place. ( don`t want to research if it`s legal to run a stop sign ! )
    Thanks all !
  • patentandtrademarkpatentandtrademark subscriber Posts: 103
    what we all want is a guarantee or sure thing.  there ain`t none.
  • bookloverbooklover subscriber Posts: 8 Member
    I think that this is possible because this existing product (as it is
    now packaged) is probably not sold at pet stores.  I`m just
    assuming from what has been revealed so far about this mysterious new
    old product.  I can`t wait to find out what it is.
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