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Sunday, September 19, 2010

RGIS RM-1 equipment and uniforms found for sale in eBay

Previous attempts to sell RGIS' RM-1 equipment at eBay
Last July 2009, there was an attempt to sell 2 RGIS LLC RM-1 machines at eBay with auction number 130318179898. The auction had ended prematurely after RGIS intervened. It  ordered to stop the auction process, and requested the seller to return back the equipment. To get the complete details of the story and how the State of California Auction Services was dragged into the fray, read following forum threads. Very interesting.

To make the story short, there was a clear infringement of proprietary rights particularly patent infringement. RGIS had requested eBay to take down the aution by invoking eBay's VeRO policy, and requested the "seller" to return the equipment to RGIS before any legal means was taken into action. The Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program allows intellectual property rights owners to ask eBay to remove listings that offer items or contain materials that violates on their intellectual property rights. These rights include trademark, copyright, patents, and/or other legal rights deemed necessary.

For patent infringement, a rights owner may ask eBay to take down an item being sold that uses the rights owner's trademark like company logos, or brand tags on a designer's merchandise if the item is not an authentic product of the rights owner. The VERO program helps protect eBay members and sellers from buying or selling items that may be counterfeit or otherwise unauthorized under state and/or federal law.

Is it legal to sell RGIS uniforms or any other uniforms?
There were instances in the past where company uniforms, pins, and other apparel had been sold at eBay. This time, I am referring to RGIS uniforms being auction at eBay and FindTarget:


Although, it's not necessarily illegal to sell uniforms, company uniforms, military uniforms either online or offline, the military does have regulations restricting how some of them are disposed. eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon have their own policies and restrictions regarding the selling of prohibited merchandise. UPS brown uniforms, except for collectible items, may not be sold online or offline as well.

For RGIS uniforms, there is no existing company policies on selling, let alone returning the uniforms. When you are hired as an hourly employee, the company will provide you with RGIS shirts or tops featuring the RGIS logo for FREE. In fact, there is no current policy from the Employee's Handbook about RGIS requiring to return those items even after the termination of your employment. Nor any policy that prohibits the selling of those uniforms.

For as long as you do not infringe any existing trademark rights such as company logos and clothing brand name by reproducing them or using them other than their exclusive purpose or intent, then you can freely dispose of the clothing either by selling, donating, or even dumping.

What constitute trademark infringement?

Image from Renjith Krishnan/
A trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase, used to identify a particular manufacturer or seller's products and distinguish them from the products of another. Infringement may occur when one party, the "infringer", uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers.

The RGIS logo, The Nike logo, or the Apple Inc, logo are example of trademarks. Texture, color, size, and dimension of the garment used are not trademarks and therefore not infringeable because trademark refers only to a word, a symbol, or phrase. RGIS uniforms looked very identical with NiceVille High School apparel or the New Mexico State University apparel. And none of them infringes the other. What makes it an infringement is when you:
  • Reproduce the RGIS logo and use it for commercial and non-commercial (distribution) purposes without the proper permission or license rights from RGIS company. 
  • Reproduce the "Fashion Seal" brand which owned by Superior Uniform Group for commercial or non-commercial (distribution) purposes without license rights from the company.
  • Reproduce the whole uniform including RGIS logo or Fashion Seal brand for commercial and non-commercial purposes without proper permission.
RGIS may request eBay to remove its uniform from being listed for auction. But eBay decides whether the VeRO program may be applied. Until RGIS issues explicit policy regarding the returning or selling of those uniforms, it cannot legally stop you or any person from selling them online or offline.

You may like these links:

You may also like:

Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business & Product Name  The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know  How to Buy, Sell, and Profit on eBay: Kick-Start Your Home-Based Business in Just Thirty Days  eBay 101: Selling on eBay For Part-time or Full-time Income, Beginner to PowerSeller in 90 Days


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