Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Reverse Passing-Off Definition:

The action of a provider of goods or services who purchases another's goods or services, removes the latter's trademark and replaces it with its own.

Related Terms: Passing-Off, Inverse Passing-Off

Also known as inverse passing-off.

In Dastar v Twentieth Century Fox, Mr. Justice Scalia of the United States Supreme Court, at footnote #1, used these words:

"Passing off (or palming off, as it is sometimes called) occurs when a producer misrepresents his own goods or services as someone else's.

"Reverse passing off, as its name implies, is the opposite: The producer misrepresents someone else's goods or services as his own."

American attorney Lori Freedman explained reverse passing off as folows:

"Reverse passing off occurs when one producer purchases another producer's product, removes the latter's trademark and replaces it with its own. This is the opposite of the traditional trademark infringement act of "passing off." A producer passes off its goods as those of a competitor by affixing to its product a trademark deceptively similar to that of its competitor. Thus, in the passing off situation, a producer sells its goods under the pretense that such goods were manufactured by its competitor, whereas in the reverse passing off context a producer sells its competitor's goods as its own. Reverse passing off may be accomplished "expressly" or "impliedly." "Express" reverse passing off occurs when a producer removes a competitor's trademark and replaces it with the producer's own mark. Reverse passing off is accomplished "impliedly" when a producer merely removes or obliterates a competitor's trademark."

These words are very similar to those used by Justice Pregerson of the United States Court of Appeals in Smith v. Montoro as follows:

"... reverse passing off ... occurs when a person removes or obliterates the original trademark, without authorization, before reselling goods produced by someone else.

"Reverse passing off is accomplished expressly when the wrongdoer removes the name or trademark on another party's product and sells that product under a name chosen by the wrongdoer. Implied reverse passing off occurs when the wrongdoer simply removes or otherwise obliterates the name of the manufacturer or source and sells the product in an unbranded state."

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