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I have a question about selling t-shirts with characters…

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I have a question about selling t-shirts with characters from shows.

Lawyer's Assistant: What written documentation do you have?

None

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a local attorney? Has anything been filed in court?

I haven't talked to a local attorney yet. I was going to make an appointment with an intellectual property lawyer for next week about this. I haven't solid anything yet but I wanted to know before I do.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

If the design of the characters can be considered "parody," therefore legal under United Stated law, if the characters are modified.

Submitted: 10 months ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
9/29/2017
Lawyer: Legal Eagle, Lawyer replied 10 months ago
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,158
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only. Additionally, most people believe a phone call is the easiest and most efficient way to handle problems. Accordingly, you will receive an automatic phone call request. If you would like a phone call, please click “Accept” when prompted.

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Lawyer: Legal Eagle, Lawyer replied 10 months ago

Thank you very much for your patience. Generally, if you are reproducing images from another party then it's going to not be a copyright violation, but it will be a trademark violation. In your case, the other party may claim that you are infringing on their trademark, but proving it is a different case. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has laid out some elements that you can run through with your own lawyer to determine whether you are going to respond to this infringement lawsuit.

1. The other party has to prove they have a valid, protectable trademark and that they own that trademark;

2. The other party must prove that your mark is similar and you used it without the consent of the other party in a manner that is likely to cause confusion among ordinary consumers as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or approval of the goods.

So, it's a factual argument they would have to make. If you have a different coloring, design, style, slogan, or have different products altogether, then those elements will likely not be met. In addition, if you modify the characters such that it is clear that this is not infringing on their Mark, but rather your own separate Mark that you are creating, then you would likely not be violating anything under trademark laws. Also, although I provided an initial answer, it’s important that you are 100% satisfied. If you feel I have done so, please rate me 5 stars and let me know if you have any follow up questions. As a side note, you can also click here in the future to request me individually.

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