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Discussion Starter #1
I plan to print a small quantity of items on various tees from the clothing store, Forever 21. Before I begin I would like to make sure I'm not doing anything illegal by printing on their tees. Also, I would like to make sure I avoid doing anything illegal when/if using the tees. I don't plan to remove the labels or mandatory tags. I'm not 100% if they will be sold yet. Back to the original question, is it okay to print on tees from clothing stores?
 

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You can legally resell anything you buy retail with no restrictions as long as you don't modify it in any way. But once you modify it, if the brand owner considers it a trademarked, copyrighted or intellectually owned property, you are in violation of the law.

There is a particular law that applies to all this, but I forgot what it is called.
 

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I just remembered, it is called "First Sale Doctrine" when it applies to copyrighted products. You see it mostly talked about for music and movies, but it applies to all copyrighted products.

The main thing though, is to find out if the brand owner considers it a protected product. Garment manufactures like Hanes, Gildan, Anvil and a host of others don't consider printing on a blank garment of their's an infringement of any laws. The key word being "blank".
 

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You can legally resell anything you buy retail with no restrictions as long as you don't modify it in any way. But once you modify it, if the brand owner considers it a trademarked, copyrighted or intellectually owned property, you are in violation of the law.

There is a particular law that applies to all this, but I forgot what it is called.
OMG! my eyes. Are these blanks you have or do they have designs on them and you are going to add to it?
 

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You can print on garments that are considered "blanks" that have more than a plain solid color. For example, so called "blanks" are sold with a camouflage pattern on them, but are considered blanks for decorating purposes.
 

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You can sell anything you want as long as you purchase it form a legitimate source. Where it gets illegal is if you were to do "forever 21" on the shirt and sell it as an exclusive item, portraying it's a product from the company that isn't sold at the stores in your community. The same thing goes with shoes, I use to airbrush air force 1's. when people were paying me to do them as a service there was nothing to worry about, but in terms of doing something and selling them myself, I had to clarify that they were painted by me after purchasing them in their original state, so I didn't confuse people on the source of the shoe. If they assume it's something that came from the Nike factory and buy it and something starts going wrong with it, like the paint peeling off, they would assume Nike is at fault and talk bad about them, which can effect their business, so that's more or less what they would sue someone for in terms of infringing on their material. As long as you aren't creating artwork based around material copyrighted to the company to make it appear to be one of their factory made articles you're ok as long as you make it known that you have added the artwork to the merchandise. Look at it like selling a car you painted, besides that, you would have to be doing A LOT!!! to make enough noise for them to want to put the money forth for a law suit. So if it's worth it enough for them to put their lawyer on you just bargain with them some kind of way and talk out a business deal because if you can do all that alone just being you.... imagine what THEY could do with it..... and you got red ones, green ones, blue ones, orange ones, dragons, tigers, etc. etc. :)
 

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You can print on garments that are considered "blanks" that have more than a plain solid color. For example, so called "blanks" are sold with a camouflage pattern on them, but are considered blanks for decorating purposes.
That was not the meaning of my quesiton so let me clarify. I wanted to no if they were blank garments or if they have designs by Forever 21 on them. Forever 21 has a white dress and that dress has no markings on it. I consider this a blank canvas as I can take that dress and screen print something on it. They also have a white dress with a swirl pattern on it, in my book this would not be a blank canvas as the swirl is a design of Forever 21, but I have known people to take the white dress with swirls on it and add rhinestones to it and resell it. That is what I was asking the original poster.
 

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If you are buying Forever 21 shirts and printing on them for your own personal use, you are ok. Once you have purchased it, you are free to do what you want with it.

But once you start reselling them, it gets a little tricky. The fact that you are decorating and reselling their branded product, they are definitely going to care to some degree. Whether they choose to take legal action is up to them. You should definitely use some discretion and perhaps consult an attorney, because the reality is, even if what you're doing is completely legal they could still bring action against you.

Another thing to consider is pricing. If you buy shirts at retail prices, then decorate them and mark them up to resell, your retail price might be pretty high. If you do intend to start selling shirts, you may want to start looking into buying blanks at wholesale prices. They will be cheaper and won't carry the legal risks.
 

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My main point is that it depends on the brand owner if they allow their product to be decorated/enhanced. I mentioned brands that make "blanks" just for this purpose. I did not mean to imply that all garments that could be considered "blank" are available for decorating and resale. It very much matters if the owner of a brand considers their product protected by trademark, copyright or intellectual property laws.
 

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But once you start reselling them, it gets a little tricky. The fact that you are decorating and reselling their branded product, they are definitely going to care to some degree. Whether they choose to take legal action is up to them. You should definitely use some discretion and perhaps consult an attorney, because the reality is, even if what you're doing is completely legal they could still bring action against you.

This is what I was getting at but the OP never answered the question so we don't no what it is she have. Maybe if she respomd we could advise her better but you said exactly what I was thinking.

Also, my comment about some people taking certain designs then adding to it and selling it was an example that can be seen all across Ebay and not meant for others to think this is what the OP is doing. Again until she responds we won't no her intentions.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The t-shirts I have are just plain white tees aka blanks. If I do plan to resale I wont sale the shirts as if they came from Forever 21 with the design I printed on them.
 

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Is it that the Forever 21 stuff has the cut and fit you are looking for? You can have garments sewn to your specs if needed. And if your stuff is going to be higher priced high-end stuff, then cut & sew is not a bad way to go at all.
 

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You can always contact someone at the corporate office and ask them. I am guessing they do not since they are nothing more than a brand. They do not manufacture the shirts, they just buy the rights to the shirts they feel are "in" and probably would not want anyone else selling their styles. I am guessing they probably do not come up with their own artwork either, but rather they buy the rights to designs and probably wouldn't want a design not approved by them to be on their shirts. Again, the best thing to do is just call and ask, they'll let you know.
 

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What makes you say that?
Because in general that is how the fashion industry works. To totally oversimplify it, they see something on the runway, they make a deal with the designer and then its in their stores... but then I was assuming Forever 21 was a typical fashion store, but it appears from what I read about all the lawsuits and such against them that their true business model is to steal the design, have it reproduced in Chinese sweatshops and then push it out to their stores before it hits other stores.

In any case, my advice to the OP was to call and ask.
 

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If you are buying Forever 21 shirts and printing on them for your own personal use, you are ok. Once you have purchased it, you are free to do what you want with it.

But once you start reselling them, it gets a little tricky. The fact that you are decorating and reselling their branded product, they are definitely going to care to some degree. Whether they choose to take legal action is up to them. You should definitely use some discretion and perhaps consult an attorney, because the reality is, even if what you're doing is completely legal they could still bring action against you.

Another thing to consider is pricing. If you buy shirts at retail prices, then decorate them and mark them up to resell, your retail price might be pretty high. If you do intend to start selling shirts, you may want to start looking into buying blanks at wholesale prices. They will be cheaper and won't carry the legal risks.
Hi - I'm new to this business so the legal side is interesting to me before I start out. Your last sentence caught my eye.... So does that mean if I buy blanks at wholesale prices I can do what I want with them and sell on without any problems?

I have a wholesaler in Europe (I live in Ireland, they are from the Netherlands) lined up, and I want all garments to have my logo sewn on. I do not intend to remaove any of their labelling.

Should I "horse on"?
Mia
 
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