Repurpose a product? Profit!

Can I take an existing product, buy a bunch of it, then repackage and sell it for a different use?
Lets say I found that ketchup could be used to clean aluminum auto rims…could I repackage it and sell it as rim cleaner?

There should be no problem with that so long as you never mention the name of the original product. If you mentioned the name of the original manufacturer, then their lawyer types would probably have a fit about any potential product liability, should someone or something be injured by the product.

These lawyer types like to have total control over anything said or printed about their products.

And other than that, money wise you would probably get a better price buying wholesale. There would not be a brand name associated with that, just a manufacturer. And I suppose you could buy 50 gallon barrels, railroad tank cars full, etc.

It would be kinda silly to buy crates of Heinz ketchup from the store, empty the bottles into a new container, and sell that. You would do much better to isolate exactly what in the ketchup is working as a rim cleaner and have that stripped-down product packaged and sold.

That said, things get repurposed all the time.

In World War I, wood pulp fiber was used to make bandages. Women found that they made excellent feminine hygiene products as well, and they started being sold as Kotex pads.

Bubble wrap’s original purpose was as a textured wallpaper.

Viagra was intended to treat heart disease and blood pressure issues. It didn’t work so well in its intended use, but it gave all the guys that were taking it stiffies.

Slinkies were designed to stabilize sensitive pieces of equipment on ships.

Play-doh was a wallpaper cleaner.

The original frisbee was a pie pan. The guy that invented it was tossing a pie pan back and forth with his wife while they were at the beach and someone offered to buy it from them. He realized that he could sell them as novelty beach toys at a much higher price than they sold as pie pans and the Frisbee was born. Eventually they started making the disks themselves instead of just repurposing pie pans and they tweaked the design a bit to make them more aerodynamic, but the first frisbees were just pie pans. And this is exactly like the OP. They started off buying them as pie pans and sold them as frisbees.

Not exactly what you asked but a company I worked for once bought a bunch of water in bottles, took off the labels, put a new label on and resold them. Got in trouble for it.

Who did you “get in trouble” with, and for what reason? Without that information this anecdote doesn’t really tell anybody anything.

There’s a few companies (Waterfi, Underwater Audio, Swim Audio) that sell waterproofed electronics such as iPods, FitBits and Kindles. They unabashedly use all of the brand names and product names in the marketing of these items.

I don’t know if they’ve worked out deals with the makers of these products, or if you can legally just resell an item for the same purpose (you are still using an iPod as an iPod) but slightly altered.

A little different than the OP’s question but still an interesting example, I think.

There’s an entire industry of people who trawl Ali baba for cheap Chinese gadgets and then set up a branded website/Amazon storefront that sells it to Western consumers for a substantial markup.

Sometimes, minor cosmetic changes are made but there’s also cases where they just straight up drop ship the product unmodified direct from China.

Pretty awkward to have to rewallpaper a room every time you get bored.

I’m not an expert in the legalities, but keeping the original branding would tend make their practices more legal. You’re a legitimate reseller of the iPod. You’re also a legitimate seller of modifications to an iPod.

Mostly you’d get in trouble if you tried to pretend the modified iPod was entirely your own product, if you claimed that Apple endorses you in any way, or if your modifications broke any of Apple’s licensing terms (like using the iPod to operate a nuclear reactor).

You could even have a partnership with another company, like mr. Super chefs special beef ribs with Coca Cola in the sauce.

In this case it was more like identifying a better material for an existing product; cotton pads were offered “discreetly wrapped” to ladies of fine sensibility for a very vaguely described “hygenic” purpose at least as far back as the 1890’s. (And looking at contemporary instructions on how to use cloth towels for the purpose, I can see why.)

Food has labelling laws, eg how can batch numbers be matched up ? What use is the batch number if the bottler isn’t identified ?? There may also be issues with mispresentation. If you say “pure water straight from the mountain lake”, can you really start selling tap water from the city supply in the same label ?

Of course some food companies therefore say “we mostly use local food…”.

OMG you discovered phase 2! File:Gnomes plan.png - Wikipedia

Funny! Glad I could help…

The main threat with doing something like this is that one of two things will happen, and they both involve larger companies running smaller ones out of business.

If you’re running “Uncommon Sense’s Amazing Organic Red Wheel Cleaner, Inc” and your main product is organic Heinz ketchup in a squirt bottle with a fancy new label. And let’s say the active ingredients are hard to determine; it’s not obviously the vinegar, sugar and water, and you can’t afford the lab work to determine exactly what’s going on.

You run the risk of say… Simoniz or some other car care products company sinking some R&D money into figuring out what’s special about ketchup and selling it themselves. You also run the risk of a larger ketchup company just putting a blurb on their bottles and website, and undercutting your price by a drastic amount (assuming you priced your product above what ketchup retails for). Or they could sell ketchup made from inedible tomatoes at a similar price as regular ketchup under the label “wheel cleaning ketchup”, and sell it in the auto stuff aisles, thereby also undercutting you.

That’s the threat of basically relabeling someone else’s product without any serious value additions on your own part. You pretty much run the risk of them figuring out what you’re doing, and doing it themselves for less, or being able to bring greater resources to bear than you can on things.

Now if you’re say… the waterproof iPad people, or say… Callaway Cars, you’re taking a shelf product and adding significant value, which changes the equation.