I've seen this label on coke cans at one point, and I was wondering: is this legally enforceable?

If it's not, is it possible for a retailer in any way to disallow the resale of an item purchased? Something like, I don't know, maybe a license you have to agree to in order to be allowed to purchase said item?

This comes in the larger context of these new tech releases (GPUs, consoles) and how the producers/retailers could legally prevent scalpers.

  • 1
    For food and drink items, sometimes individual items (like an ice cream bar) won't have the nutrition information, ingredients, and possible allergen contaminants but the package does. Reselling the individual items could open you up for liability.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 16:52
  • 3
    Does this answer your question? "Not for individual resale" - really?
    – user4657
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 9:15

1 Answer 1


No, the first-sale doctrine makes this unenforceable

Once a product is sold to a retail consumer, it is generally theirs to do with as they wish, including reselling it. The company likely intends this restriction to apply to distributors/retailers with whom it has contracts: it would likely be a violation of their distribution contract to, say, open a 12-pack of Coke and sell the individual cans.

An exception to this doctrine is licensed software. Because it is licensed and not sold, there's not a product that the consumer could legally resell; the license is not required to be transferrable.

As far as license agreements to prevent this go, it's been tried: Lexmark sold toner cartridges with a patent license agreement banning refilling and reuse. It ended up at the Supreme Court in Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., where Lexmark lost.

  • Minor point: many software license do in fact allow the license toi be transferred by sale or gift as long as all copies are transferred at the same time, but a software license can, in the US, prohibit such transfers. But such a license is transferable by default unless it specifies otherwise.Many explicitly permit transfer. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 16:50
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    @DavidSiegel good point, thanks. I clarified that a bit in my answer.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 18:52
  • Not only software, but also equipment that is leased. It is analogous to software in that you do not own it, just have some rights to use it. IBM long exploited this with mainframes. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 23:42
  • But then what if the seller will only sell you the item IF you sign an agreement prohibiting you from re-selling it? Is that a legal thing?
    – Mesos
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 14:40

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