I run a small business as a sole trader buying and selling goods. I buy genuine goods from retailers in the UK/Europe, sell over the Internet and export to exclusively to Taiwanese customers. I received a cease and desist letter from a manufacturer stating the following:
- They note that purchases brought above and beyond personal use and that they would not sell any further products to me. Not a big deal and they are within their rights to do so.
- They mention selective distribution network, prestige of trademarks etc ... quality through selective distribution agreement.
- Asked me to respond with assurance of cease and desist of selling their products, to resolve matter amicably, otherwise they would consider legal options.
- I don't have or have not signed any agreements with the manufacturer and have not responded to their request yet.
As I understand, there is a first sale doctrine in Europe which ensures that once I buy a genuine product, I can resell it without comeback from a copyright owner. Also as far as I understand, Taiwan supports international exhaustion of trademark rights (although want this confirmed) and therefore this is not an infringement occurring abroad. I do realise that some manufacturers have prevented import into the UK from outside of Europe, but as I am performing the reverse and operating within law I don't believe there is an issue.
What I need to understand is:
- Am I doing anything illegal, I do not believe so as goods are genuine.
- If so assume there legal options are non-existent if I comply with law.
- I use their logo and pictures of the products on our website that we re-sell from.
- How should I respond to their original email / letter, or should I not respond.
I'm a small reseller and don't want to get stuck in dispute, but also don't want to be bullied when I am within my rights and operating within the law. Also, should I be highlighting this with any government departments as its essentially a threat and looks like its boarding on market manipulation if I am operating within my rights.