Compared to a copyright, a trademark offers broader protection and is most commonly associated with words and brands. A few examples of common trademark infringement include an unlicensed shirt containing a name of a famous sports team, a hoodie with the name of a college in the campaign description, or a tank top that has a logo of a sports car.
Before creating a tee that may contain protected assets, make sure to research registered trademark databases and brand licensing pages. For example, if you wanted to created a military shirt you would want to check out the licensing page for information that outlines all registered marks, like this.
You can learn more about trademark law on the FAQ page provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Sean’s LeapTee Shirts
- Sean is a fan of LeapTee, and wants to create a shirt to sell to other visitors to LeapTee. He comes up with the following design.
- LeapTeeis a brand, and as a result its company name and logo are trademarked. Although the logo isn’t a registered trademark, its been established by use as belonging exclusively to LeapTee. This means that others can’t use it – even if they add tweaks to the image – without the permission of LeapTee.
- Even though Sean changed the design by altering the color of the logo and the spacing between the spring, he is still infringing upon LeapTeetrademarks.
- Although occasionally trademark owners will let others use their mark for free, most brands such as colleges and sports team very rarely allow the use of any images or phrase that can be directly associated to them without a license.
Jackie’s Realtor Tees
- Jackie is subscribed to an email listserv for realtors in Florida. She’s seen a few people sell funny apparel out over the listserv, and wants to give it a shot. She comes up with the following shirt:
- Unfortunately, Jackie’s shirt is actually infringing upon a registered trademark as it includes the word “realtor,” which is owned (Registration # 8607448) by the National Association of Realtors Corporation. After receiving a takedown request from the organization, Jackie’s shirt is removed accordingly.
- In his next campaign, Jackie has successfully created a shirt for realtors without actually infringing upon the Realtors Corporation’s trademark.