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hello! i am new to the forum and have been searching for answers to protecting my slogans... the links are a bit confusing. wondering if anyone can help me understand if it is possible to protect my slogans with a copyright? i am launching my business with 4 slogans and designs per... is there any way to protect them individually? thanks in advance!!!!!
 

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Slogans do not fall under copyright.

You can copyright the design. But only the design will be copyrighted. Someone else can use the same slogan in a different design and it would be legal for them to do so.

Or you can try to trademark the slogan. But it is considered difficult to trademark a slogan specifically for use on t-shirts. You would most likely need to prove that the slogan is actually part of your branding or marketing (ie. Nike's Just Do It) rather than just one of several slogans your brand uses on t-shirts.
 

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The fact that you really can't is the bane of my existance. One of my first and favorite ones got ripped off by someone now trying to claim it as their own. Raises my bloodpressure. And there's not a darn thing I can do about it. I have been considering using it was my "tagline" though, then trying to trademark it that way. I honestly don't even know that the amount of money I am losing to the theif would cover the cost of the TM, but just to serve that lowlife would make it worth it to me :).
 

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yes that is my idea. to use it as my tag line! i feel for you! i am ALL about originality.. thank you!
 

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It really REALLY sucks that you cannot protect your slogans. Are they not IP in the eyes of the law??
Yes, slogans are considered IP and they can be protected by registering a trademark.

It's just difficult to register a slogan for use on clothing, especially if it is only being used on a few items within a clothing line. But if the slogan is a brand name or official tagline used in the marketing or branding of the company, then it can be protected with a trademark (provided it meets the normal registration requirements).
 

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You can trademark them. That isn't worth anything unless you are going to go after those that copy your work.
 

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The fact that you really can't is the bane of my existance. One of my first and favorite ones got ripped off by someone now trying to claim it as their own. Raises my bloodpressure. And there's not a darn thing I can do about it. I have been considering using it was my "tagline" though, then trying to trademark it that way. I honestly don't even know that the amount of money I am losing to the theif would cover the cost of the TM, but just to serve that lowlife would make it worth it to me :).
Boy, do I hear you! I had somebody steal something my late GRANDMOTHER had come up with, and they had it printed on pricey, "designer" drawer handles! (I know that sounds totally weird and isn't about t-shirts, but it's the same principle.) I came across the "slogan" quite by accident while online shopping for kitchen renovation stuff and almost had kittens when I saw the ripoff. It wasn't like I necessarily had any plans to use it, but there is no possible way the person could have just come up with the same thing by some bizarre coincidence--and I know who I told the story to that surrounded the slogan, so I know who stole from my Grandma!. Nothing I can do about it, of course. Grandma would have been hopping mad, that's for sure. Woe betide the thief in the afterlife.;)
 

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That's terrible Randi, I don't know how some people manage to sleep at night. :mad:

I notice that a lot of t-shirt vendors around the internet have shirts bearing the same slogans. I know that this is unlikely to be a coincidence and that someone is passing off someone else's idea as their own.

This is of particular concern for me, because I am proud to say that I am able to think up original t-shirt slogans, and I would like it to be clear that I do not steal the ideas of others. I have this fear that when my slogans are made publicly available on a t-shirt, this also makes them vulnerable to theft and reproduction elsewhere.

Setting aside the potential loss of profits that this presents, I think it is also a matter of integrity, pride and reputation. To Joe Public who notices that I have a t-shirt slogan for sale that also features in someone else's store, the conclusion may be drawn that I have been stealing ideas. At the very least it creates the element of doubt, which casts my integrity into question. :(

I'm not sure if anyone else sees it this way, but it is a big deal for me.
 

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I notice that a lot of t-shirt vendors around the internet have shirts bearing the same slogans. I know that this is unlikely to be a coincidence and that someone is passing off someone else's idea as their own.
This is common with pop culture references like "That's What She Said," "Add As Friend" and "I'm What Willis Was Talking About." Technically, anyone using it is stealing from the originator.

There are certainly many instances where more original slogans being used by multiple websites. But it's hard to know who came up with it first. First usage is often used to determine ownership. If anyone believes they are being ripped off, they can try to take action. But without a trademark registration, legal recourse can be limited (not impossible, but not as easy to prove without the registration).

But I think what tends to happen with most of these sites is that they carry so many designs that it's not worth protecting, enforcing and litigating infringement cases. These designs come and go so fast, they are more concerned with moving inventory and coming up with the next hot slogan or design.

Unfortunately, "ideas" cannot be protected under any intellectual property laws. So while it may be unethical, taking an existing non-registered slogan, designing it differently and selling it on your own site is legal.

I have this fear that when my slogans are made publicly available on a t-shirt, this also makes them vulnerable to theft and reproduction elsewhere.
Yes, unfortunately this is true. You need to launch your shirts to the consumer to sell them, but that in turn makes them visible to people who could reproduce them.

Setting aside the potential loss of profits that this presents, I think it is also a matter of integrity, pride and reputation. To Joe Public who notices that I have a t-shirt slogan for sale that also features in someone else's store, the conclusion may be drawn that I have been stealing ideas. At the very least it creates the element of doubt, which casts my integrity into question. :(

I'm not sure if anyone else sees it this way, but it is a big deal for me.
While you can't necessarily protect every idea, concept, and slogan associated with your clothing line, you can DEFINITELY protect your brand. And that doesn't just include the brand name or logo, but also the integrity, pride and reputation you are talking about. If your consumers know your brand and choose to continually support and be fans of your brand, then they will understand where you are coming from and will appreciate the authenticity of your brand. Getting Joe Public to understand the difference between your brand and some knockoff seen elsewhere is all part of the overall branding effort of a clothing company.
 

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While you can't necessarily protect every idea, concept, and slogan associated with your clothing line, you can DEFINITELY protect your brand. And that doesn't just include the brand name or logo, but also the integrity, pride and reputation you are talking about. If your consumers know your brand and choose to continually support and be fans of your brand, then they will understand where you are coming from and will appreciate the authenticity of your brand. Getting Joe Public to understand the difference between your brand and some knockoff seen elsewhere is all part of the overall branding effort of a clothing company.
So true, Tim. I guess the only thing I can do is make sure I'm doing the best I can to ensure that my business embodies my values. Thanks for that perspective, I needed it!
 

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The one thing about trademarks too is that you need to be prepared to go after anyone infringing on your mark. If not, the government can legally throw out the TM.
Great. Thanks, Government.

I don't know which is more worrisome: the fact that there are people out there actively stealing others' ideas and designs for their own gain, or that many of them seem to be just TOO STUPID to realize that what they are doing is wrong. It seems not to occur to many that someone else's creation BELONGS to that person and should not be taken from a moral standpoint, even if, legally, it is "okay" to do so.

I also see too many posts on here by people who ask if it is legal to use images they screen-captured off the web (for example), and it is clear from the way they ask that they know it is unethical but if it is legal, that's good enough for them. Stealing is stealing, folks. :mad:
 

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I don't know which is more worrisome: the fact that there are people out there actively stealing others' ideas and designs for their own gain, or that many of them seem to be just TOO STUPID to realize that what they are doing is wrong.
First off, ideas cannot be stolen because ideas cannot be owned or protected as intellectual property.

But you make a valid point regarding stealing of designs. So that said, I think the second one is more worrisome.

People who knowingly steal IP for their own profit probably put some thought and effort into the risks and rewards. Doesn't make it right, but at least they know the lawsuit could be coming and are prepared for it.

But people who are completely naive to IP laws are worse. They didn't even do any research at all to learn and understand about the risks involved in their business model. They simply invested blind money and effort into something that they will lose when they are blindsided by the lawsuit.

It seems not to occur to many that someone else's creation BELONGS to that person and should not be taken from a moral standpoint, even if, legally, it is "okay" to do so.
A creation, including brand names, logos and t-shirt designs, can be protected. Once something is created, and not just an idea, it becomes IP to some extent. The best way to protect IP is through registrations. But copyright exists immediately once the work is in fixed form; and common law trademark exists once the mark is used in commerce. So people should be actively pursuing legal recourse if and when their IP is stolen.

The unethical but legal issue happens when something cannot be registered as IP. But that's just a nature of the beast. There has to be lines drawn as what can and what cannot be owned as IP. If it can't, then it's fair game. But people should know that in advance. They can use something and profit off it, but cannot hold exclusivity.

Another time this happens is when someone comes up with an idea but never executes it into something that can be protected as IP. Unfortunately, the originator of the idea needs to take some accountability here.

I also see too many posts on here by people who ask if it is legal to use images they screen-captured off the web (for example), and it is clear from the way they ask that they know it is unethical but if it is legal, that's good enough for them. Stealing is stealing, folks.
I think people ask simply because they see it somewhere and want to know if it's legal or illegal. Deep down they probably know the answer. After all, that's why they ask rather than just assume it's ok. But I think people want to know if there's a loophole or something they can do to make it legal (like change it 30% or something like that).

But yes, for most people, if it's legal they are usually willing to do it. Because it's the legality of it all that defines it as stealing or not. So stealing is not stealing if it's actually legal to do it. I know you are coming from the creative conscience side of it, but most of society doesn't work that way.
 

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First off, ideas cannot be stolen because ideas cannot be owned or protected as intellectual property.

But you make a valid point regarding stealing of designs. So that said, I think the second one is more worrisome.

People who knowingly steal IP for their own profit probably put some thought and effort into the risks and rewards. Doesn't make it right, but at least they know the lawsuit could be coming and are prepared for it.

But people who are completely naive to IP laws are worse. They didn't even do any research at all to learn and understand about the risks involved in their business model. They simply invested blind money and effort into something that they will lose when they are blindsided by the lawsuit.


A creation, including brand names, logos and t-shirt designs, can be protected. Once something is created, and not just an idea, it becomes IP to some extent. The best way to protect IP is through registrations. But copyright exists immediately once the work is in fixed form; and common law trademark exists once the mark is used in commerce. So people should be actively pursuing legal recourse if and when their IP is stolen.

The unethical but legal issue happens when something cannot be registered as IP. But that's just a nature of the beast. There has to be lines drawn as what can and what cannot be owned as IP. If it can't, then it's fair game. But people should know that in advance. They can use something and profit off it, but cannot hold exclusivity.

Another time this happens is when someone comes up with an idea but never executes it into something that can be protected as IP. Unfortunately, the originator of the idea needs to take some accountability here.


I think people ask simply because they see it somewhere and want to know if it's legal or illegal. Deep down they probably know the answer. After all, that's why they ask rather than just assume it's ok. But I think people want to know if there's a loophole or something they can do to make it legal (like change it 30% or something like that).

But yes, for most people, if it's legal they are usually willing to do it. Because it's the legality of it all that defines it as stealing or not. So stealing is not stealing if it's actually legal to do it. I know you are coming from the creative conscience side of it, but most of society doesn't work that way.
Will you be my lawyer? :D
 
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