Bruce, Regarding marking precious metals and products that are not
sold across state lines...
You are absolutely right: federal marking laws do not apply to
products that are not sold across state lines. There are, however,
also a number of states that also have laws on this topic, including
New York and Hawaii. The AJM articles cover that issue, as well.
Of course, in some areas of the country it's easier to avoid selling
across state lines than others. You could probably make a decent
living within your own state if you live in California. If you reside
in Rhode Island, however, it's a rather limited market. "Selling
across state lines" would include doing a craft show in a neighboring
state or selling your products in out of state galleries, I believe.
Mind you, in nine years writing abou this industry I've never heard
of a single case of marking without a registered trademark being
prosecuted -- or even remarked upon. When Dateline NBC did a story on
underkarating a couple of years back, only one of the dozen or so
pieces they assayed had even been stamped with a trademark. The story
came and went, and I haven't seen any political pressure on the feds
to crack down on unmarked jewelry items. They might show a little
interest in cases of outright fraud (marking a piece 14k when it's
less than 10k, for instance), but I can't imagine a scenario in which
the authorities would crack down on correctly marked and karated items
just because the craftsperson hadn't registered the trademark.
(Although perhaps others on the list can.) In reality, I think the
decision of whether to comply with the law or not is really up to your
own conscience. If you're just starting out and are going to be
selling mostly to locals, I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep about
not registering a trademark -- although if you're the law abiding
type, I'd certainly plan to do it as my business grew and I started
looking out of my own backyard.
Not an attorney, just someone who's talked to an awful lot of them
and read a lot of legislation over the years...
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