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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 116701
Experience:  Attorney practicing all aspects of copyright/trademark law
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Let's say I wanted to make a parody brand of many major

Customer Question

Let's say I wanted to make a parody brand of many major campanies and for example called my brand "psyche" and made shoes with a psyche label and something similar to a Nike swoosh but with an obvious and noticeable alteration such as a shark tooth sticking out of it which makes it obviously not an attempt to counterfeit ... Or an Adadis shirt with 4 stripes instead of the Adidas 3 stripes. A running shoe with a mirrored N which looks like a parody of new balance... Do I have legal right to do this?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year 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.

Parody works for copyrights, but it is much more difficult for trademarks in that if you are going to use their logo you need to make the alteration to the logo obvious. The central issue in every trademark infringement case is the likelihood of consumer confusion. See: 15 U.S.C. §§ 1114, 1125. So, even though parody is not a defense to a claim of trademark infringement, courts have noted in the context of the likelihood of

confusion test (either as a separate fact or or in relation to the other factors) that a successful parody will rarely be considered infringing, since the ultimate object of a parody is to amuse, not confuse. See: Cardtoons, L.C. v. Major League Baseball Players’ Ass’n, 95 F.3d 959, 967 (10th Cir.1996). In a parody case, “‘[t]he strength and recognizability of the mark may make it easier for the audience to realize that the use is a parody and a joke on the qualities embodied in [a] trademarked word or image.’” See: Tommy Hilfiger Licensing, Inc. v. Nature Labs, LLC, 221 F. Supp. 2d 410, 416 (S.D .N.Y. 2002).

Thus, you can do this as long as your modification of the trademark is sufficiently distinguishable from the original mark that it cannot be confused with the original mark and it does actually try to amuse the customer.

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