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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, this seems like the place to do this. I have been designing t-shirts for the past 3 years now. I am in my first season in the car show circuit in the DFW area as well as the first season with this brand and I am getting a pretty good response but there is always room for improvement. I would really like to get this out to the world in a grand fashion and could use some help and critique. Let me know what you think.

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Thank you Lisa, it's funny my wife loves it but I get a lot of mixed feelings about the ladies stuff at the shows. Sometimes they buy the guys shirts and sometimes the girls stuff. I'd say about 70/30 ladies buying the smaller guys shirts 70% of the time.
 

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Thank you Lisa, it's funny my wife loves it but I get a lot of mixed feelings about the ladies stuff at the shows. Sometimes they buy the guys shirts and sometimes the girls stuff. I'd say about 70/30 ladies buying the smaller guys shirts 70% of the time.
Well, I don't go to car shows but I will tell you that I have been in the biz for longer than I care to admit and I totally see your stuff selling at retail.....and not just to the "car show" market. It's way cool. Maybe it's just too cool for those girls! Ha! Ha! I didn't notice if you were doing kids but you sure should. My nephew would ROCK one of the designs on the girl's shirts....he would love that. He is a hipster at 5 and wears Porsche shirts all the time and that one color look is super hip. I say you do some cool kids stuff too if you're not already! :D
 

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Think you stuff is cool but I would certainly check about using the actual car even though you have no logos/emblems on the vehicle.
Believe the actual form of the vehicles are copyrighted by the auto manufactures and they protect them vigorously.
I have debated this several times on this forum and no one has given me a definite answer on this, so will be interesting to follow this post.
Good luck to you with your Brand

Sean
 

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Didn't noticed the lack of logos, well played. Im not into those type of cars, unless you can design a VW Type 3 Squareback, but I can definitely see them selling.

The site itself is missing a "wow" factor. I think you should have a front page with some type of car related stuff. Maybe a picture of a cruise night, or a track day or some else to draw me in.

Great work and best of luck!!

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Which is the only designs that have been Trademarked or copywrited by the automakers.
The distinctive style of an automobile can be owned as intellectual property as a "trade dress." Even though you are not using emblems or names, you can definitely be sued for infringement under trade dress law if the make and model of the car in your artwork is considered identifiable to the average consumer. I don't know how many automakers protect against trade dress infringement on t-shirts, but there is clearly some risk in what you're doing. If you're willing to take the risk, that's cool. But it's a good idea to research the laws a bit more to understand the risks and then make an educated risk/reward decision.
 

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The distinctive style of an automobile can be owned as intellectual property as a "trade dress." Even though you are not using emblems or names, you can definitely be sued for infringement under trade dress law if the make and model of the car in your artwork is considered identifiable to the average consumer. I don't know how many automakers protect against trade dress infringement on t-shirts, but there is clearly some risk in what you're doing. If you're willing to take the risk, that's cool. But it's a good idea to research the laws a bit more to understand the risks and then make an educated risk/reward decision.
I hear you on that but the automakers do not pursue that type of suit for a couple of reasons. #1) How many car designs currently on the market look similar? Kia and just about every model they make. Each automaker would have a sue battle for each other if they did. #3) If you go to walmart right now and check out their $4 t-shirt section you will find muscle car shirts that have Chevelles, Challengers, and Mustangs on them in full color and full detail but guess what is missing from every single car? The emblems. If they were to take the trade dress route they would have to go after every single little guy and the big guys as well. Automobiles themselves fall under many different design patent and tradmark laws due to their uses and marketing. They will generally only trademark names as it is much easier to trademark and protect those designs because exterior vehicle design changes on a yearly basis. So that being said all of this would fall under a design copywrite if you will that requires a change of anywhere between 12% and 30% to be considered original. Oh and also think about this. Shelby Cobra kit cars are the most copied kit car out there and are manufactured by no less than 6 different companies around the world. Only one is licensed to use the Shelby name.

I have done plenty of research and have answered this very question several times.
 

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How many car designs currently on the market look similar? Kia and just about every model they make. Each automaker would have a sue battle for each other if they did.
Yes, automakers copying each other is nothing new. But the use of IP on merchandise is governed under completely separate laws, namely, The Lanham Act. I'm not suggesting the automakers would sue each other. I'm suggesting they would protect their IP from unauthorized use on merchandise. The laws clearly give them the right to. And on top of that, licensing is a big revenue stream. So proper management of their licensing maximizes that revenue.

I didn't view every design on your site, but I doubt you have any Kia t-shirts. Probably because they are boring and wouldn't be big sellers. You know this market better than I, but it would make sense that the most popular shirt designs would be the most distinctive looking cars. And the trade dress of the most distinctive looking cars would likely be the most protected by automakers. So by definition, any car worth using on a t-shirt would be at higher risk of a trade dress infringement lawsuit.

If they were to take the trade dress route they would have to go after every single little guy and the big guys as well.
The automakers can't go after everyone. So some will get caught and others won't. But that doesn't make it legal. And it doesn't make it risk free.

Choosing the reward over the risk is a fair and rational business decision. You seem to have a good grasp of the laws and where you stand. So that's good. But there are others who are reading this thread as well. So its important to clarify that it's not risk free to use cars in designs just by taking the emblem off. Automakers can take action if they choose. The laws support this.

So that being said all of this would fall under a design copywrite if you will that requires a change of anywhere between 12% and 30% to be considered original.
This is a common misconception. There is no concept of copyright law that states what percentage of change is needed to be considered original. There are derivative and fair use laws, but neither substantiate the "% change" myth. It is completely subjective and up to a judge to decide if/when a copyright case goes to court. No amount of change automatically makes an existing work original.

I have done plenty of research and have answered this very question several times.
Fair enough. I don't mean to badger you about it. Just offering some info to consider (for you and others who may read the thread).
 

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No worries, the fact of the matter is that this subject matter is all grey area anyway. The only reason I mentioned Kia is that they have copied vehicle designs from Nissan to Bentley. I totally understand what you are saying. I have known some people to receive cease and desist letters from General Motors very quickly when having something for sale with the Chevrolet bowtie. GM have also patented the Z/28 name as well not just trademarked.

I really do appreciate the feedback though.
 

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No worries, the fact of the matter is that this subject matter is all grey area anyway. The only reason I mentioned Kia is that they have copied vehicle designs from Nissan to Bentley. I totally understand what you are saying. I have known some people to receive cease and desist letters from General Motors very quickly when having something for sale with the Chevrolet bowtie. GM have also patented the Z/28 name as well not just trademarked.

I really do appreciate the feedback though.
I had a kids line years ago that had Old McDonald images, cows and sheep and the like. The line got pretty big and someone knocked off my images, and they were verbatim my art. Fortunately for me they put them on ladies sleepwear and I don't think there are many women out there who want to wear "Here a moo, there a moo" to bed when they're trying to impress their man! Anyway, I spoke to an attorney who said that I could insist that this company (who was quite large) pull all the offending merchandise from the shelves and destroy it. I didn't really care so I didn't pursue it but it would have been just a hand slap more than anything and at your level I agree with you, they just aren't going to do that much. It's risky if you want to take it much bigger but I wouldn't hurt myself over it now. That's just my not so humble opinion! ;).
 
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