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I was wondering if anyone knows much about trademanks on qoutes or charaters from shows. I was thinking about putting some Simpson's qoutes on shirts my friend and I are selling. Does anyone know of any good websites with tradmarks laws or something related to that nature. Thanks in advance!

Jason
 

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What about a quote that may not be obvious that's a simpson's quote (or a slight variation of)? For instance, the simpson's quote that says, "Can't sleep - clown will eat me" and your t-shirt that says, "Can't sleep - clownS will eat me." Not everyone will think "Simpsons!" right away, but real fans will recognize it. Grey area?

:)
Kristen
 

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foxvox said:
What about a quote that may not be obvious that's a simpson's quote (or a slight variation of)? For instance, the simpson's quote that says, "Can't sleep - clown will eat me" and your t-shirt that says, "Can't sleep - clownS will eat me." Not everyone will think "Simpsons!" right away, but real fans will recognize it. Grey area?

:)
Kristen
Your best bet is to ask a lawyer. I did find this at http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#title
How do I copyright a name, title, slogan or logo?
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark.
 

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foxvox said:
What about a quote that may not be obvious that's a simpson's quote (or a slight variation of)?
If it's not an exact quote, then I don't think it is a problem.

The quote you mentioned isn't an exact quote from the Simpson's show (it has been changed around), and most people don't even associate it as a "Simpson's quote" (like "Doh" or something).

If you aren't quoting, I don't think it is a problem. If you are taking popular quotes directly from a show or movie like "I'll Be Back" or "Doh", then you're most likely going to have problems.

Especially if it is an item the show is marketing, or has plans to market themselves.
 

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Elleth is also right, you can't "copyright" a phrase or slogan, and in most circumstances, you can't even "trademark" a phrase.

There are exceptions as to when you can trademark a phrase, like when the phrase is also a "brand" (like Burger King's "Have it Your Way", or Nike's "Just Do It")

But for the final word on these type matters, you should always talk to a lawyer (which I am not :) )
 

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I was looking into using quotes in a different matter, such as

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." - Bill Cosby

If you use quotes like that are you protect from copyright infringement? Or I’m I limited to using quotes I know will be in public domain, which will be anything before the 1900s
 

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Dan said:
If you use quotes like that are you protect from copyright infringement? Or I’m I limited to using quotes I know will be in public domain, which will be anything before the 1900s

Using the quote in a commercial manner (like on t-shirts for sale) always opens you up for potential problems.

The best way to protect yourself is to check with a lawyer or get permission from the source. Without permission, it's best to air on the side of caution.

Stuff that is guaranteed to be in the public domain should be fine.
 

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I cannot talk about copyrights, but you can get to, and search the copyright database at http://www.copyright.gov/

This is the link to the US Patent and Trademark database... http://www.uspto.gov/
Under Trademarks, select search, then select new user form search, enter what you are searching for in "search term", (use quotes to find exact phrases). I have gone through this processs, and it took a year and a half to make it through, and get the registered trademark status.

If you are going to use something on a shirt, be sure that it is not in the database. If you are even close to a trademark in the database, you risk either being turned down by the trademark office, and/or sued by someone who has a trademark. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security just because there was nothing in the database that matched what you had in quotes. Do the same search without quotes. Adding an extra character, reversing the words, etc., can get you into trouble.

Do not assume that having found nothing in the database, that you are free to either use it or trademark it yourself, or that it will not be turned down. You should get a lawyer involved. This lawyer will search all the state databases, etc. A search by a trademark lawyer is about $350, filing the trademark about $400. Then there is the wait. Thjey are backup up with lots of people who got there before you. You can use the 'TM' mark while your are waiting for the 'R' mark. Every time you call the lawyer to ask a question, about anything, they will bill you by the minute.

There is a saying something along the lines of..."If you put a bunch of monkeys in a locked room, with typewritters, in about a hundred years those monkeys will have written Shakespear's plays". In other words, where there are still some origional ideas out there, most of them have already been thought of, even if modified slightly. So, if you have something that you think is new, research it, and file...before someone beats you to it.
 

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Hmm... interesting topic. I see the quotes books and notice that they use the authors name with the quote. Is that a way to handle using quotes? By giving the proper recognition? Staying away from the latest and greatest show stopper quotes of course. Oscar
 

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3oats said:
Hmm... interesting topic. I see the quotes books and notice that they use the authors name with the quote. Is that a way to handle using quotes? By giving the proper recognition?
For using quotes on merchandise for sale, the proper way to handle a quote is to get permission first.

If you don't have permission, I wouldn't suggest you use it on merchandise for sale.

Citing your references is fine for a bibliography in your term paper, but trying to profit off of a quote is a totally different thing, and you need to make sure you have written permission from the copyright holder.

Your best bet is to contact an attorney if you want to go into that arena.
 

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I find it safe to stay clear of quotes or anything that has to do with shows, movies, or copywritten graphics. I do understand why you'd want to, but it will just cause you alot of needless problems at the end.
I suggest making up your own sayings or phrases and see where it takes you.
If you can get written permission than use it.
 
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