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Legal Complexities of Selling Unpatented Parts Online

Location: Anniston  |  Law type: Business law attorneys

We have been making parts for a company for over 20 years. Under today's circumstances they have all but cut our work out, sending to other shops and CHINA .  I have been in this business for over 50 years and what they tell me I don't believe. We are looking at putting up a website to sell some of the parts we have made for years. They have no patents or copy rights on the parts. What kind of come back could they do? I have 3 employees plus myself and I don't want to close the business, it is to be left to my son and grandson. I understand one outcome would be I would lose their business, but once found the parts would be a lot cheaper than what they sell and our would be made in  USA 100%

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Legal Solution

The response provided below is specific to Business law attorneys in the jurisdiction of Anniston. If the response is inadequate, please submit a detailed inquiry.

Navigating the Legal Complexities of Selling Unpatented Parts Online

Given the longevity of your business association and the recent shift in the client's sourcing strategy, it's essential to understand the legal ramifications of selling these unpatented parts online. In the absence of patents or copyrights, the primary concern becomes the possibility of breach of contracts or existing agreements.

Relevant Legal Provisions for Business Law in Anniston:

  • Business Contracts and Agreements - These detail the rights, obligations, and restrictions of both parties.
  • Trade Secrets and Unfair Competition - Even without patents, certain products might be protected as trade secrets.
  • E-Commerce and Online Business Regulations - These govern online sales, advertising, and consumer protection.

For a comprehensive understanding, visit the homepage of the Alabama State Government's official website.

Potential Solutions:

  1. Contractual Review: Begin by thoroughly reviewing any existing contracts or agreements with the company. Ensure there aren't clauses that prohibit selling the parts elsewhere, especially online.

  2. Trade Secret Evaluation: Even if the parts aren't patented, if they qualify as trade secrets and you begin selling them, there could be legal repercussions. Engage a business law attorney to evaluate the scenario.

  3. Setting Up Online Business: If legally clear, ensure compliance with e-commerce laws. This includes transparent business practices, clear return and refund policies, and adhering to online advertising standards.

Estimated Legal Costs in Anniston:

Service Average Price
Contract Review $1,250
Trade Secret Consultation $1,800
E-Commerce Legal Compliance $1,050
General Legal Consultation (per hour) $375

Note: The above prices are average estimates based on typical legal fees in Anniston. Rates can vary based on the complexity of the case, experience of the lawyer, and other factors.

Clarifications and Next Steps:

Before making any decisions, it would be wise to get a clear picture. Engage a local attorney to review your current agreements and potential business strategies. To compare lawyers in your area and find the right lawyer, consider reaching out to local bar associations or online platforms.

Key Questions for Consideration:

  • Are there any non-compete clauses in your contracts with the company?
  • Is there a chance that even without a patent, the parts can be deemed trade secrets?
  • Have you checked for other potential intellectual property rights or trademarked processes related to the parts?

What if the company claims a breach of contract?

Even without a patent or copyright, if there is a clause in your contract prohibiting sales elsewhere or a non-disclosure agreement, they might sue for breach of contract.

Can I sell products that were once made exclusively for a company?

If there are no contractual obligations preventing you and the parts aren't considered trade secrets, then generally, yes.

How can I protect my business from potential legal backlash?

Engage a legal professional to review all contracts, evaluate the nature of the parts, and set up a compliant online business strategy.

Are there any licenses required to sell machine parts online in Anniston?

Depending on the nature of the parts and local regulations, you might need specific licenses or permissions to operate an e-commerce business.

Can I advertise the fact that my parts are cheaper and made in the USA?

Yes, as long as you adhere to advertising standards and regulations and the claims are accurate, you can use this as a selling point.

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This content is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It's always recommended to consult with a local attorney about your specific situation.

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Remember, if you are sued, it's too late to hire a business lawyer. If you are a small business owner or if you are starting a new business, a business lawyer can advise you on many aspects that are related to business! Contacting a small business attorney or law firm only when there is a current urgent problem is unhappy. The sooner you hire a business attorney, the better.

How much does a business lawyer in your location cost?

The most experienced and skilled corporate lawyers can cost between $350 and $700 per hour. It depends on a variety of factors, such as geographic location (U.S state), firm size (single attorney vs large business law firm and in some cases, a business lawyer can charge a flat fee (f.e: setting up an LLC).  Types of Business Attorneys:

  • 1. Contract lawyer will be needed to prepare the standard form contracts.
  • 2. Business organizations: corporation or limited liability company (LLC).
  • 3. Business attorney for real estate.
  • 4. Taxes and licenses:  your business (tax) lawyer should know how to register your business for federal and state tax identification numbers and how to fill out the necessary forms.
  • 5. Intellectual property attorney would be needed for all type of media, design or other creative-type business firms.

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