How to Make Sure the Wholesale Furniture you are Importing is not Patented or Trademarked

by Yang Anderson on Jun 4, 2010

One of the dangers of importing your own furniture is that the items you want to buy from factories overseas might be patented or trademarked. There is virtually no way of knowing just by looking at an item if it is restricted, especially if you see it in a trade show or at a manufacturer's warehouse. Overseas manufacturing facilities in China rarely do a search for patents or trademarks because trademark protection for trademark holders is very sparse and in practice is mostly defended by larger multinational companies like Nike so smaller mark holders are left to costly litigation to defend their marks. This article will give you a few tips and methods to find out if you are in the clear to import. Your first step for importing is locating the bar furniture that you want to buy. Once you see the general style, you can look at sources such as Google image search or books such as 1,000 Chairs to see if it you can find the chair you are looking to buy. If you find the chair and find the original manufacturer, then you can go to their website to see if they had obtained a patent or trademark on the design. If you cannot find any information on their website, you can contact that manufacturer directly and ask to speak to their legal staff directly. If they are unwilling to answer questions, you can proceed to step two. The second step varies on if you have found the chair design or not. If you have not found your chair design, then you can go to the USPTO's website and do a patent search. First type in general terms such as "chair" or "bar furniture" and see if your results come up quickly. If your bar furniture is not found, you are going to have to keep digging. If you have the manufacturer's name handy, you can insert their name and see what patents they hold and if your item is there. If you find your item, see if the registered trademark is still valid or if it has expired. If you do not find your item, then proceed to step three. Call your patent and trademark lawyer. Even if you find or do not find your bar furniture item, call your lawyer for a good legal opinion. If you are importing items that are patented or trademarked, your eventual cost is going to be lower if your lawyer gives a professional opinion first. So in closing, you can do all of your research, but we recommend at the end of the day you call your lawyer.

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Source: Yang Anderson is a specialist in wholesale furniture.
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