Trademark advice

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Trademark advice

We have a business that designs and manufactures uniforms. My query relates to the use of other businesses and associations logos on these uniforms. Some of the uniforms may be sponsored by several businesses and hence their logos appear on the garments however how do we protect ourselves as a business just in the instance one of these businesses hasn’t given permission for their logo to be used. We assume especially in the case of bigger clubs and associations they have the permission as they are coming to use for their uniforms. I have been legally advised to get written permission from each business with a logo, however, this is impractical as some clubs have 50 sponsors or more. Can we provide a document worded stating we hold no responsibility for any trademark infringement and this responsibility lies with the club/business and its representatives?

Asked on February 23, 2017 under Business Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot disclaim your responsibility in that way: if someone whose trademark you infringe wishes to sue you for the violation, they can do so (i.e. if you cannot make the trademark holders give up their rights with an agreement they did not sign). What you can do is have your customers execute agreements like what you describe which will not absolutely protect you, but will show that your infringement was innocent (which affects what you could be sued for--innocent infringement does not subject you to as much liability). The agreements should also state that the  customer is affirming that they have any/all necessary permissions and are not infringing trademark (again, to establish your innocence); AND they should state that in the event of infringement, if you incur any costs (including legal fees) or losses, the customer will reimburse you.


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