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Copyright surround football badges

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:10 pm    Post subject: Copyright surround football badges Reply with quote

Good Afternoon,

I was wondering if anyone has any knowledge surrounding the copyright of badges/emblems of football teams in England?

I am basically considering producing a club badge from sheet stainless steel via laser cutting, to sell to fans of the club in question on the internet.

I intend to trace the football club logo as closely as possible to produce a file suitable for laser cutting, that also resembles the logo as closely as possible.
I don't intend to use any colour other than the natural finish of the stainless steel.

Do you think what i intend to do would breach the copyright of the logo? - or can I declare my designs as "unofficial" and not an exact copy?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and i would greatly appreciate your opinion,

Kind Regards,
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andy,
First of all it's not just copyright that you need to consider. Many if not all of the major teams' logos will be registered as trade marks, and depending on what has been registered as the mark (say the overall shape or more specific details such as the club's colours) you may find this aspect is just as great a problem as the copyright issue.

These are all registered marks of their respective clubs, but several other variations also exist for each club. If you reproduce an emblem in a way which still makes it recognisable as the club emblem then that could well lead to either a trade mark infringement or passing-off claim, because such marks are likely to be registered in, amongst other categories, Class 20 (includes things like plaques) and class 28 (badges etc).

Turning to the copyright issue, as you appear to acknowledge, these logos and emblems are likely to be covered by copyright as artistic works. Copyright is infringed if a substantial part of the original work is copied without permission. I suggest that your stainless steel version, albeit without the colour, which "resembles the logo as closely as possible" would almost certainly constitute a substantial part of the original design. It doesn't make any difference that you will have reproduced the design (or at least a major part of it) in a different medium:
Section 17(2) Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988:
(2) Copying in relation to a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work means reproducing the work in any material form.
This includes storing the work in any medium by electronic means.

On that basis, I think your idea is likely to attract the wrong sort of attention from the clubs, who protect their intellectual property with vigour. Here are a couple of major court cases involving clubs and unauthorised merchandise: Arsenal FC v Mtthew Reed and Football Association Premier Leagure Ltd v Panini UK Ltd to give you an example of what you might expect, if you go ahead without seeking a licence.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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