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Trademark Infringement Need Help and Answers

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Forum topic by Blackie_ posted 711 days ago 1302 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Blackie_

3291 posts in 1113 days


711 days ago

Hello I’m always thinking of new creations for my boxes so I was about to take on a couple new project themes for my valet and jewelry boxes, one being NFL’s Dallas Cowboys theme box with like colors and silver star for marketing profit also along with the Texas Long Horns theme box using a dyed like burnt orange and the UT logo, longhorn, I know these would sell like hotcakes, so my question is if I leave out certain aspects such as color difference, in other words getting them close but not exact could I get in trouble and what would happen? Would I just get a notice to stop or would more action be taken against me?

Example, a blue box with a silver star with no name is that considered infringement?

Ya know the ole saying it’s better to ask for forgiveness then to have never asked at all?

I was in the local box store buying the colors I need and the clerk brought it to my attention so I thought I’d better put more thought into this and ask.

Thanks
Randy

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs


18 replies so far

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 970 days


#1 posted 711 days ago

It will be interesting to hear from a lawyer, but if you are making them close enough that people know what team they are for, you will be in violation. If they sued you would loose. However, would you be big enough for them to bother, I doubt it. Even if they took notice, they would probably start with a cease and desist letter, so you could stop there.

I’d say, yes it is illegal, but as long as you don’t go big time they probably will not notice. I’ve got the think this type of thing happens all the time.

-- John

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1833 days


#2 posted 711 days ago

I would think it if was close enough to be mistaken for an officially licensed product either in color or design, then you run the risk of a trademark lawsuit. A good example was a couple of years ago I may have the players wrong, but I do recall the color was right…

A few years ago, there was a trademark lawsuit from one Taiwan tool importer (Jet tools I believe) had attempted to sue another Taiwan tools importer that was shipping tools in a similar white color (I believe it was Shop Fox). Unfortunately I can’t seem to find an online reference to it, maybe someone else may remember it and post a link… Anyway, the end result was the court did not side with Jet, and not only is Shop Fox still shipped over white, but now Grizzly has the Polar Bear Series, and from the last I saw, Harbor Freight has changed the 14” band saw color to white… But I assure you, those lawyers needed to defend against the suit were NOT cheap, and you being just a little guy, well, do you want to donate your house and everything your family has to the Cowboys lawyers?

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View hhhopks's profile

hhhopks

560 posts in 978 days


#3 posted 711 days ago

There is a fairly recent case where a company is selling almost “KU Jay Hawk” T-shirts & stuff. You could probably Google and read about the case.

The university went out of their way to make sure the owner will not resurrect ever to sell almost look alike stuff. When you mess with their pocket book, the big boys will respond accordingly.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View Kookaburra's profile

Kookaburra

745 posts in 825 days


#4 posted 711 days ago

They would probably start with a cease and desist letter. But they could come with a court order to seize all your merchandise and your shop equipment. It just depends on who gets a burr under their saddle for what you did. Probably not worth it.

And close is an infringement, especially if it is clear you intended to be close for marketing reasons. Sports teams, with good reason, are very diligent about protecting their trademarked logos, colors and designs.

Something such as a blue box with a silver star could be argued as generic, but if the star is the same proportions with the same orientation as the Cowboys, you are likely going to have a hard time supporting your cause.

In any case, they have much deeper pockets than you and they could bankrupt you just by the legal fees if they find you irksome.

I wouldn’t do it.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3837 posts in 929 days


#5 posted 711 days ago

go with flag themes and cliche’s like “don’t mess with texas” instead…

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Blackie_'s profile

Blackie_

3291 posts in 1113 days


#6 posted 711 days ago

Thanks everyone, OK I’m going to scratch this idea and do something more in the lines of what ssnet suggested.

Man I had three maple blocks cut and ready to go too, OK back to the drawing block.

Thanks again.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs

View MichaelR's profile

MichaelR

42 posts in 1030 days


#7 posted 711 days ago

A close acquaintance is going through a similar process right now. They took the approach to go to the university/entity and ask what needed to be done to get an official approval to produce the merchandise. Bring a sample or better yet a drawing for them to review. They will give you what to do to go through all the needed legal steps. Going that way you could end up with them placing your items in their stores and official retailers. In my friends case the profit margin is smaller, not too much, but the overall revenue will be much higher.

View hhhopks's profile

hhhopks

560 posts in 978 days


#8 posted 711 days ago

You could make the stuff but only for personal use and where no $ is involved when it changes hand to other people.
They are not going after us for making Dallas Cowboy or Texas A&M t-shirts. as long as we arn’t selling it. Isn’t this considered as an enthusiasticc fan? :-)

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View Roger's profile

Roger

14146 posts in 1405 days


#9 posted 711 days ago

Be careful what, and how ya do it Randy. Nobody has to know you sold them. ??? Right? I’ll say it again tho, be careful.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Blackie_'s profile

Blackie_

3291 posts in 1113 days


#10 posted 711 days ago

In my mind I’d know what I’m doing and going for and being careful not to step on toes, this would definitely be a fine line and taking a gamble. If I produced a (non Dallas color) box I’d be using a General Finish Federal Blue water based milk paint to dye the wood which again is not their colors and a star, I might even try a pyrographic star, worse case I’d use the coincidental card. As Roger said I need to be careful.

I pulled off the Texas flag by using the natural walnut to resemble the blue, mahogany for red and hackberry for white, maybe I could do the same here, the flag box is in my projects.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs

View AngieO's profile

AngieO

1134 posts in 748 days


#11 posted 711 days ago

I’m glad you posted this. I see people all the time selling things with “UK” and “Indiana” on it. Especially here. I know the rivalry is pretty thick. I know i’ve been asked to make some corn hole boards and they want them painted “kentucky blue”.

Very interesting. I guess I just didn’t think about it.

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1746 posts in 1165 days


#12 posted 711 days ago

For years people in New Orleans made bootleg saints things black and gold and fleur de lis. Things that say who dat or have players numbers, but never using the word Saints or the exact fleur de lis. Never any real problem until a few years ago when the saints made the super bowl and the nfl sent cease and desist letters to anyone they could find that was selling anything that toed the line. Well locals thought it was BS and the NFL never really did anything about the situation since they really have no copyright authority over the colors black and gold or the fleur de lis shape. Yes they do on a specific black and a specific gold and a specific fleur de lis, but not on all of them. Basically I’d say it depends on how big your business is, and how generic you make things a star would be pretty tough to call you out on i’d think, but the long horn might be a little closer to the line.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View casual1carpenter's profile

casual1carpenter

353 posts in 1076 days


#13 posted 711 days ago

It might be interesting to find out just what the respective trademarks are. Would cowboys be a trademark? A Texas lone-star? Blue and silver colors? Perhaps in when used in a particular combination or intent to capitalize on the notoriety of the trademark and fan base. I think that the intent to capitalize on the notoriety of the trademark and fan base is the big question, and the big problem if you stray to close to their mark.

Just my thoughts, but I would have to agree with those above that the big people have big lawyers that they pay anyway, And, I’m sure they are nice people but I’d rather not meet them in their professional capacity.

AngieO- on a side note, make the boards unfinished and the customer can paint them any color they want.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13305 posts in 939 days


#14 posted 711 days ago

Yes it would be an infringement. However, unless you are make a significant number of them, it would most likely end with a cease order. I live near the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Harley Davidson sends them to vendors all the time. Then if you don’t stop, they get ugly.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View KnickKnack's profile

KnickKnack

965 posts in 2167 days


#15 posted 711 days ago

Rather than scratch the idea, which is probably the smartest thing to do without official consent, why not make one sample box and present it to them as a gift, in person, to the highest in authority person you can get to.
Then, while you’re there, play it by ear – who knows?

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

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