Intellectual Property Law

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I have a question regarding collegiate and professional sports…

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I have a question regarding...
I have a question regarding collegiate and professional sports teams logos and brands. I am looking for clarification on what would constitute trademark infringement. For example, if I wanted to produce a black tee-shirt that said "Chicago" on the top and then had an original piece of art / logo that depicts a literal pair of "white socks" on it, would that be permissible (no mention of "White Sox")? How far do trademark laws extend into colors? Could I manufacture a baby-blue shirt that said North Carolina in white text (but does not say University of North Carolina)? What if on that same North Carolina shirt I include an original image of a ram (the UNC logo/mascot) or an original image of a literal human heel with tar on it. The shirts would aim to invoke or suggest the team / university, but would not explicitly display their names (only geographic region) or official logos.
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
1/4/2012
IP Lawyer: MShore, Lawyer replied 6 years ago
MShore
MShore, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25,285
Experience: Regularly draft and negotiate IP contracts/deals.
Verified
Thank you for the post, I am happy to assist you by answering your questions. It really boils down to whether an objective consumer would associate your tee shirt design with the baseball team and whether it can reasonably said this was your intention. In this case, it appears the intended association is clear as the composite of the work is to convey to the reader "Chicago White Sox." Please let me know if you need additional guidance.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Did my follow-up question go through? I can't tell if it did or not.
IP Lawyer: MShore, Lawyer replied 6 years ago
Unfortunately not, please republish at your convenience.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Darn. Ok, well I am not surprised my your answer. There is no question that I would want to evoke the idea of the team or school, but I am wondering to what extent the trademark applies. Am I not allowed to create an original piece of art that depicts a wolverine playing football and print that on a blue or gold shirt because the U of Michigan named themselves the wolverines and plays football, even if I do not include the word "Michigan" anywhere? I guess the question is what is the tipping point (I know you can't give a concrete answer here, but looking for your opinion)? Is it using the geographic location or the team or school? The team colors? Or is any attempt to evoke association with a team or university going to be infringement period?
IP Lawyer: MShore, Lawyer replied 6 years ago
An attempt to evoke association with a team or university is grounds for infringement, and a suit to enjoin the future production of the apparel.
MShore
MShore, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 25,285
Experience: Regularly draft and negotiate IP contracts/deals.
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Category: Intellectual Property Law
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