Troubling Court Ruling: Company Not Allowed To Resell Radar Detectors Online
from the no-first-sale dept
However, there are some exceptions, and Eric Goldman points us to the latest one. A reseller of radar detectors has effectively been barred from selling a certain brand on eBay, claiming that it was trademark infringement. But what about those first sale rights? Well, apparently this case gets around them by claiming that the product being resold by this company Midwest Inventory Distribution is a different product, because it doesn't come with the same warranty (Midwest offers its own warranty and the original company, Beltronics, refuses to honor warranties on these resold radar detectors). The court also seemed to have problems with the fact that Midwest didn't properly "disclose" this information, even though every auction stated clearly that Midwest offered its own warranty and Beltronics wouldn't provide any warranty coverage.
As Goldman notes, this seems based on some questionable theories, and conceivably could allow companies to skirt around first sale rules, by claiming that anyone reselling their products online are engaging in trademark infringement, because the "warranties" on the products are different -- even if the products themselves are really identical. As Goldman writes:
The net result then is that eBay buyers willing to pay a discount for an identical radar detector but with only Midwest's warranty instead of Beltronics' won't get that choice. Instead, they get the pleasure of buying at the minimum resale price set by Beltronics.