Copyright infringement, Online print on demand business

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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alanhawksly
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Copyright infringement, Online print on demand business

Post by alanhawksly » Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:07 pm

HI

We are operating an online personalised greeting card company similar to Moonpig but oh so much much smaller. We are about to introduc a range of Birthday designs aimed at football club fans.. The design entails a person (the fan)dressed in football kit and holding a generic scarf above his head standing on a plinth with "No 1 Fan" on it. . The customer will be able to upload there face pic and type in the name of there chosen football club , then choose and add from 20 generic football strips to add to the fan.
We will of course not be showing any examples of trade marked clubs on the website I.E Man united. and will not be showing any logo,s or copying any particular club strip

I am aware that Manchester United and others are trade marks, but where do i stand on customers typing in "No 1 Manchester United fan" directly onto the card design and choosing a generic red shorts and top? and then purchasing the card online?


Would very much appreciate your thoughts on this??

Alan

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:58 pm

Hi Alan,
As you seem to appreciate, although you did not say it directly, the main issue here lies with trade marks. Names cannot be subject to copyright.
Many of the major football clubs will have registered their names as trade marks for a number of different classes of goods, which I would expect to normally include clothing (class 25) for obvious reasons. So you would need to be very careful to avoid producing any image which could be taken as infringing these trade marks, or as passing off - the civil offence of trading on the goodwill of another business through confusing the public into thinking your goods are either the goods of the other company (in this case the trading arms of the football clubs) or are approved by them. This would extend to producing images on cards which apparently featured an infringing garment etc.
The fact that it was your customers who provided the words would not absolve you from liability if you knew, or might reasonably be expected to know, that the wording would infringe, on the article (the card) that you print for the customer.
At the very least you need to put some suitable wording on your site, which customers must click on to agree that they have read, stating that slogans which infringe other people's IP must not be submitted. But really I think that since one infringement case could wipe out your business it would be worth getting more detailed legal advice. One place you could start is here: Own-it
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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