They say possession is 9/10ths of the law, but a case going through the Supreme Court could throw all of that for a loop.
"You may wind up actually having to get permission of the manufacturer for goods manufactured overseas," said attorney Grant Varner.
The case goes back to Supap Kirtsaeng, a New York man who made more than $1.2 million from buying textbooks cheaply from Thailand and reselling them on online auction site eBay. In the process of all this, he got sued by a local retailer.
According to MarketWatch, Kirtsaeng claimed he could do so under something known as the first sale doctrine, which says that any good made or bought in the United States can be resold without permission from the manufacturer.
As the case made its way through the court, an appeals court ruled that if a product isn't made in the United States, it can't be sold without permission.
"You really have got to be kidding me," said Varner, upon hearing the law. "This could cause absolute mayhem."
The law could affect any type of secondhand sale - anything from used car sales, to online auctions, to yard sales and flea markets.
"This is too much stuff. You don't even know who makes any of this stuff. By the time you finish with it, the labels are of all of it," said David Scheuerl, who's having a yard sale this weekend.
"Even though the Supreme Court may side with the lower court, Congress will have the opportunity to balance it out and bring it back in line," Varner said.
Varner said Congress could pass a law if the Supreme Court sides with the lower court ruling. He said there's currently no law on the books that covers secondhand sales of items imported from overseas, which is why the lawsuit has made its way to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Oct. 29. But until then, it's business as usual.
For Scheuerl, he has a garage full of items he bought a long time ago that simply need to go.
"I'm just trying to make a living and make a little bit of money on the side here for old stuff I want to get rid of," he said.
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