According to US copyright law, the legal rights to a quote belong by default to its author (or speaker). Quotes are considered intellectual property, which is protected under the law.
If the original creator of said image files a trademark and gets it approved, they can litigate against you, even if you used their newly trademarked logo during the time prior to when they had the trademark approved.
Simply contact the original copyright owner and ask to use or license their work. You may find they not only allow you to use their work but that permission is given at little or no cost.
A brief summary of copyright law
- Literary works.
- Musical works.
- Dramatic works.
- Choreographic works.
- Graphic, pictorial, or sculptural works.
- Film and audiovisual.
- Sound recordings.
- Architectural works.
While it may take several months to receive your certification of copyright, your T-shirt design is legally copyrighted, registered and protected as soon as the Copyright Office receives a complete application, payment and copies of your design.
Words and logos on T-shirts can be protected with the USPTO, but the overall design of the T-shirt is actually protected by copyright law. As soon as the T-shirt is fixed in a tangible medium, any creative and original aspects of the shirt are protected by copyright law.
The short answer is a big NO. Unless you have the authorization, agreement, and contract with rights and limitations in doing so from the celebrity/ his/her management/agent, then you have no legal right to use and especially print and make sales off of a celebrity's image.
In fact, copyright and trademark violations can in some cases lead to criminal charges. Selling shirts with copyrighted images isn't impossible, but you should never use someone else's logos on your T-shirts or other clothing without their explicit permission.
If this is a personal and entirely non-commercial use, then it's just fine. It is not even trademark use in this case. But if you are selling the same, it becomes infringement. many people mark their sports team shirts and jerseys for example.
Being a t-shirt designer, you must get copyright so that no other person or organization can illegally use your designs for any commercial activity. It is tempting to use an attractive image, shirt quotes, or graphics as part of your design. But any illegal use can land you in legal trouble later.
You should copyright your t-shirt designs and trademark your brand name and logo to protect them legally. But don't stress about copyright and trademark too early– legal protection is not necessary to start your t-shirt business, but is recommended if the funds are available. It's definitely necessary as you progress.
In most cases, especially when dealing with copyrighted material, it's better to get written permission, or pay a licensing fee, to make sure that you're able to legally sell whatever you've made.
Using quotes will generally be permitted. This is largely because using what amounts to a very small portion of a much larger body of work will not be considered copyright infringement and short phrases or small groups of words are not... I'll certainly consider your advice before taking any action.
Register your mark nationally. Go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Use the online registration system to submit your application. The system will request the name and address of the owner of the mark, a clear drawing of the mark, a description of the goods the mark identifies and the filing basis.
To achieve a copyright for a t-shirt design, an application and fee will need to be submitted to the copyright office. This can be done electronically or through mail.
Nike does not permit other parties to use or modify its trademarks, images, logos, advertising, or other such materials. It is your responsibility to find out if your use is legally permissible. For instance, using Nike logos in textbooks may be regarded as fair use in some situations.
Specifically, the court found that Gucci's trademarks covering “the letter G with dots” and “the letter G with dots serially repeated” are “devoid of any distinctive character,” and that the Flora pattern mark also is not a valid trademark, as its decorative nature does not indicate a specific commercial source.
No. You would be violating the rights of publicity of the athletes. Rights of publicity prevent use of a celebrity's image for commercial purposes without permission from the celebrity of his agent.
No - you cannot legally use a celebrity's name on a t-shirt without his or her permission. Such use would violate the celebrity's right of publicity, and the celebrity would have a legal claim against you. Also, keep in mind that trademark is a noun not a verb.
It's risky. You could even get sued because printing a piece of copyrighted artwork on a shirt without permission is essentially stealing. And you'll likely get caught if you're going to sell them. But printing one t-shirt for your own personal use is totally fine.
You can search all applied-for and registered trademarks free of charge by using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). If your mark includes a design element, you will have to search it by using a design code.
Copyright protects the creators of intellectual property of works of art, which means your design cannot be reproduced or duplicated without your permission. However, clothing is considered a "useful article." This means you cannot copyright the clothes themselves, or even the design.