Q: I want to sell a product that looks similar to another.

I want to start my own small retail company. I found a company in China that will supply me with a device that I would like to put my branding on. However, the device has a similarity to one of Apples Product. The supplier says it's their design. It does not use any operating system of Apples or has any branding of Apples name.

Can I sell this product to the public with my branding on it without having any legal issues.

2 Lawyer Answers
Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
  • Products Liability Lawyer
  • Wyomissing, PA

A: Depends on degree of similarity--appearance is sometimes called "trade dress, "

1 user found this answer helpful

A: There are two areas of IP that are relevant: trademark and patent. Trademark would apply if you are attempting to "pass off" the product as Apple's. The question is whether a reasonable consumer would be likely to be confused about the provenance of the product. If the source of the item is clear to consumers, then there is much less likelihood of confusion, and trademark infringement would be unlikely.

Apple generally gets patents on their designs as well. One of the biggest patent suits in history is over Samsung infringing an iPhone design patent. You would need to determine whether Apple or anyone else has patented the design you are considering. Further guidance is not possible without additional facts about the product and situation.

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