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Is this legal?

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by mhossey, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. mhossey

    mhossey New Member

    Hello, I have a client who would like for me to recreate 4 shirts that he found online. They are all "knock offs" of other brands for example: A shirt that says "Faith Book" instead of "Facebook" using the FB color scheme and elements etc... Same with a home depot one, and staples. Basically your typical cheesy christian shirts. I have attached the files for you to see.
    My question is 1) is it legal to portray major brands in this manner and 2) Do I need to contact the original creators of these "knock off" shirts to get their permission to copy them?

    I would prefer advice from someone who knows for certain about these sorts of legal matters, or who might be able to direct me in the right direction. Basically I don't want to get my pants sued off.
    Thank you!

    Attached Files:

    nhnpsxdgypxp likes this.
  2. tim

    tim Senior Member

    this is a good question (that i have no insight on)- i'm curious to know too.
  3. The Simulator

    The Simulator Active Member

    I couldn't tell you for sure. I would imagine it to be 'illegal'. However they're so many of these things about I wouldn't worry about it to be honest. It's more the people selling the t-shirts that would have to worry.
  4. Tony Hardy

    Tony Hardy Guest

    Yeah, I have no idea. I wouldn't go putting them in your portfolio of work though ;)
  5. wac

    wac Senior Member

    I imagine the original designs are in some sort of violation so I wouldn't worry about it, unless you're selling them to the characters from Red State.
  6. Squiddy

    Squiddy Guest

    Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice in any sense of formal service and should not be relied upon in any serious or legal matter. Proper care should be taken with such a matter and if you wish to proceed, with peace of mind, you should seek professional legal advice.
    This is a very good question, one that is certainly not immediately obvious, even though I have studied copyright law! I went out and did some additional research to come to the following conclusions.
    It is in fact illegal to use a trademarked logo in any way shape or form. All you're doing is use popularity and fame of the Intellectual Property for your own personal gain and that's how it will be seen in a court. There are no real guidelines as to how much of the logo you need to change for it to be considered safe in any way. Some people might talk about fair usage, but they don't apply on the previously mentioned issue that you're using the brand name of another company to make money.
    Whether or not you get prosecuted is another matter entirely. The chances, apparently, would appear to be relatively low. The trademark holder or copyright owner has the right to pursue you in any case of copyright infringement but it will be a civil case, which means that you will have to pay any and all of the fees involved - unless you win. It will also be an incredibly stressful situation for you, as it is highly possible that the legal fees alone will far exceed any financial gain made with the t-shirts, and that's not including damages you will have to pay if you lose.
    It would appear that such cases are rare and in fact there are many, many outlets doing this on a daily basis. I imagine the risks would be relatively low and that in comparison to other companies doing the same thing, it is unlikely that, for example, You tube would go after you because you're simply too small for them to care about - unless they are looking to make an example. It's more likely that they will go after larger retailers first, like Zazzle and others. In your case though, as an individual, it would be more likely that you receive a cease and desist order which will require you to stop, otherwise face the impending doom of legal action from a multinational corporation!
    I believe that this is a fairly recent issue in terms of the law, and as such current UK law is not really set up to deal with this situation very well. So I imagine, if it's not already under consideration, that they will make amendments to the law to include such scenarios in the near future.
    Chances are you can do it and are unlikely to get caught, but I read some good advice which I'll pass on, which is to simply set aside some money for legal expenses, just in case. This will also set your mind at ease to some degree, knowing that you are at least a little bit prepared if it does ever happen.
    mhossey likes this.
  7. scotty

    scotty Well-Known Member

    ^^^^^Like he said^^^^^
    ....but couldn't be arsed. ;)
  8. mhossey

    mhossey New Member

    Thanks for the info Squiddy, I'm doing my own research as well...
    Part of me doesn't want to do these shirts just because they are in bad taste (personal preference) and as a christian myself I hate seeing these shirts....anywhere. If I did decide to create them, I would add a clause in my contract holding myself and the design services for these t-shirts completely not liable, in any way shape or form.
    After thinking about it, the decision is going to be more of a moral issue in which I will probably turn down the offer :nod:
  9. balders

    balders Member

    They're so bad they're almost good.
    JamesRobinson likes this.
  10. berry

    berry Active Member

    still breach of copyright of someone's work - even if they breached someones trademark in the first place.
  11. mhossey

    mhossey New Member

    No doubt, I mentioned to the client when he first sent me these that he would need to find the orginal designer, and ask for permission to have them recreated, and used in his clothing line.

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