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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 110506
Experience:  Attorney practicing all aspects of copyright/trademark law
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Our non-profit is going to conduct a fundraiser, and our

Customer Question

Our non-profit is going to conduct a fundraiser, and our product will have a California Highway Patrol badge printed on it. We received notification that if we continue, they will sue us for copyright infringement. Upon conducting a search I find their copyright dead as of 2009.
Link of image being used:
Do we need to be concerned about their threat?
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Do you need to be concerned, yes, it is a violation of their copyright to reproduce their badge without their express written consent and they have and will sue to protect that copyright. Copyright infringement can be pretty expensive and it could cost you up to $150K per violation plus attorney's fees, even if you are a non-profit.
I would strongly urge you to come up with some other design if you cannot get the CHP legal department to agree to allow you to use it for your promotional activity.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I stated that I believe they do not have a copyright, view image link, I believe they are in violation of California law..... Why can you find hundreds of items online with their same badge....
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 2 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Sorry, for the typo above, it was supposed to read, "Do you need to be concerned, yes, IF it is a violation of their copyright..."
As far as their badge itself it is in the public domain and plenty of law enforcement agencies make the same exact shape badge and the same shape badge is made for other purposes. Also, it is a symbol of a government entity by the state, so absent a specific statute authorizing copyright it is not copyrighted and is a public record in the CA Public Records Act.
If they do not have proof of any copyright that they submit to you, then there is no copyright to enforce. See: County of Santa Clara v. California First Amendment Coalition, [2009] 170 Cal. App. 4th 1301.

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