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Trademark

What’s a trademark?
Can I use someone else's trademark in my own artwork?

What’s a trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, design or combination of those things that identifies and distinguishes the source of a product from others. People often think of trademarks as representing brands.

Here's an imaginary example of a trademarked company logo

Can I use someone else’s trademark in my own artwork?

A trademark is meant to represent a brand and protect against consumer confusion. If you were to use the title of a video game or a company’s logo in your artwork, depending on how it’s used, it could amount to trademark infringement or lead a consumer to believe that the t-shirt you’re selling is official merchandise being sold by the brand you’ve referenced. Unless you’ve worked out a deal with the owner of the specific trademark you used, or you’re using the trademark in a legally acceptable way, your actions may infringe.

It can even be trademark infringement if you modify a company’s logo before using it in your art. Changing the color, shape, or font of Watchimadoodad’s logo may still be similar enough to the original and amount to trademark infringement or a similar violation of someone’s rights, like unfair competition or passing off.

But what about fair use, you might ask? In some countries, there is something called “trademark fair use,” but again, unfortunately it can be really hard to figure out if using a company’s name or logo in your artwork is fair use. See “What’s fair use? for more info. There may also be other defenses or exceptions to trademark infringement in other countries. As always, if you’re not sure whether your work would infringe someone’s trademark rights, it’s best to seek advice from an attorney before you upload it to the Redbubble marketplace. 


Obligatory Yet Very Important Legal Disclaimer:

Don’t be fooled by any complicated jargon (and how snazzy we look in pinstripe). We are not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. We recommend contacting an attorney if you need an actual legal consultation.

Rather, this is general information aimed at giving you the legal lay of the land. While we can’t defend you in court, we know that art and IP ownership can be murky territory; the least we can do is arm you with the right kind of knowledge to get you started.

 

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