Can I put abusiness’s logo on T-shirts that also have other logos already on them?

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Can I put abusiness’s logo on T-shirts that also have other logos already on them?

I just started screen printing company and I was approached by a man who owns a pizza place and a bar. He has T-shirts that he gets free from alcohol distributors that have their logos on them. He wants me to print his logo on these shirts but I am not sure if this is legal and don’t want to put my business at risk.

Asked on June 6, 2011 under Business Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, as you intuited, you can't do this without persmission from the companies to do so. The reason is, by putting his logo on the shirts that already have alcohal distributor logos on them, he would be creating an association or relationship in the mind of consumers that does not exist. That would be both misappropriation of the other companies' intellectual  property--using it for his own benefit--and also creating a likelihood of confusion, which could be a violation of the Lanham Act.

That said, if he gets permission from the companies--even if the permission is given for free (i.e. he doesn't need to pay any  licensing fee) he and you and absolutely do this. He may wish to speak to the distributors' marketing departments.


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