Copyright Question - Clothing Industry

Discussion in 'Commercial Law Forum' started by Richoerect, 26 January 2019.

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  1. Richoerect

    Richoerect Member

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    Hi,
    It has come to my attention that somebody is copying logoed shirts that we produce for someone.We do not have a copyright on these items.Do we have any rights on this one and what is the process to get garments copyrighted as we are worried more of our shirts may be copied by this person in the future.
    Help appreciated
     
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    The person who has standing here is the person who owns the art.
    If you are the mere printer/embroiderer, then that's probably not you.

    OTOH, if you created the original art (and you have not assigned it to your customer),
    then you might have somewhere to go.
     
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  3. Richoerect

    Richoerect Member

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    Thank you,
    We designed the shirt and had it manufactured with the clients permission to add their logo.
    Thank you
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    By which you mean that you designed the logo,
    and put it on a blank garment?
    Or did you design the base garment?
    Or is the art on the whole of the fabric in the garment?
    So, are you a licencee producing merch?
    Or is it just a basic printer-and-their-customer style transaction?
     
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  5. Richoerect

    Richoerect Member

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    Hi,
    Designed the base garment in conjuction with P & C.Logo added during manufacture.We have permission of course .We have been providing uniforms for almost 20 years to school.No contract with school but advertised as provider.Quantities of 300 are our min order from our manufacturer.Copies being sold at cost.Can school send a cease and desist letter.Can we protect ourselves with a copyright.Thank you
     
  6. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    Copyright issues like this revolve around licencing arrangements. The problem you have here, is that there is no such arrangement in place. You only "obtained permission" to use the logo, but permission in itself does not give you any "exclusive right" of use. Exclusive rights are the core of copyright law and these rights can only be assigned to another if there is some kind of licencing arrangement in place between the copyright holder and that other person.

    So in relation to someone else using the logo, based on the info you've provided, I would say that it is up to the school to determine if any breach of copyright has occurred. In short, if this other manufacturer has not obtained permission like you did, then their use of the logo is highly likely to be in breach of copyright, but it is up to the rights owner to take any enforment action.

    You however, can take action in relation to any arkwork that you designed yourself, provided there is no contractual arrangement that assigns the rights of that artwork to someone else. The good news here, is that there is no such contract in place here either...

    This indicates that there is no licencing arrangement in place in relation to the logo - which means that the school retains exclusive rights. Without a formal licencing arrangement, your use is "by permission, but not exclusive".

    This indicates the same, but also that there is no contract in relation to your own designs/artwork, therefore you retain the rights to your own work.

    Although I am not a lawyer, I do have qualifications in the music industry and have studied copyright law. The basics of licencing are pretty much the same across the board, whether it be literature, artwork, music, etc.
     
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    #6 Scruff, 27 January 2019
    Last edited: 27 January 2019
  7. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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    Lawyers call this a "non-exclusive licence". It does not need to be a super-formal document.
    Whereas I would tell you that a holder of a non-exclusive licence
    can indeed act against a person who does not hold one.

    By comparison, I am a lawyer who, among other fields, does a bit of work in both the live and recorded music sectors, and who has also operated a licensed merch business. I would tell you that licensing deals can be as simple as a two line email, or run to dozens of pages. And can be riven with confusion when people don't fully articulate what they have agreed to.
     
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    #7 Tim W, 27 January 2019
    Last edited: 27 January 2019
  8. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer
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  9. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    @Tim W: Thanks for the clarifications/corrections.

    I do however recommend that if the OP only has a verbal agreement at this point, that they formalize it in writing sooner rather than later. Anything simple will do, as long as it states when the original agreement was made (use the words "on or around" if you don't have an exact date); the details of the agreement; the appropriate names, titles, signatures, etc; and the date it is signed. Even the simplest of documents is better than nothing.
     
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  10. Richoerect

    Richoerect Member

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    Thank you for the input.
     
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