Is parodying a company’s brand name considered to be copyright infringement?

Can I be sued and held liable for creating a parody of a brand name and selling merchandise with this parodied version of their brand name?

Asked on September 27, 2014 under Business Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Copyright infringement is a fact specific cause of action and what constitutes fair use in the form of a parody is no different.  In fact, parody is one of the hardest exceptions to determine under the fair use doctrine because by its nature requires that a lot of the original work be used.  But if you are poking fun at a brand name it could really be trademark infringement you need to worry about.  The basic test there is whether or not there is a likelihood that it confuses the consumer. I would take your merchandise idea to an attorney that specializes in this before you invest anything.  Why sit in wait for a cease and desist letter?  Good luck.


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