I was trying to start a small business by purchasing cheap, unbranded items from Asia and putting my own brand/logo on it and branding it as my own. I was wondering what steps I would need to take if any, and if this is legal or not.
If they are otherwise not infringing patent, copyright or trade dress, and if they are not goods requiring some other information (food products, chemicals, fabrics and clothing have extra labeling requirements, gold or silver with carat marking requires you have a US trademark registration) you should be able to "re-brand" unbranded goods. But for anything from Asia, be careful. You might want to check with a lawyer first.
This answer is written to explain situations which may come up involving intellectual property law issues. It does not give specific legal advice about specific fact situations. If you have a specific fact situation in mind you should ask for professional legal advice about the relevant facts. Seemingly minor changes in facts may change a legal opinion dramatically. Space here does not permit an explanation of all the variables in complex legal areas. Dave Brezina is an Illinois lawyer and his profession is regulated under the authority of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Although he represents clients nationally and internationally, his law practice is performed in Illinois and is not subject to regulation by other states. Dave Brezina is also a Registered Patent Attorney and a patent practice is regulated by the US Patent and Trademark Office a Federal agency and is not subject to regulation by the states. The firm, Ladas & Parry, LLP, has attorneys admitted and offices in at least Illinois, New York and California. Finally, do not post confidential information. There is no an attorney client relationship created simply by correspondence or communication with the author of this site.
A trademark ("brand") can be adopted and placed on unbranded goods by their vendor if the trademark is not likely to cause consumer confusion with the marks of others. A trademark search at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is a good place to start. Standard Avvo advice: engage an attorney for a private consultation regarding the specifics of your case.
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