'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Post by famousfaces »

Hi there, me and my sister are starting up a t-shirt company. The t-shirt design will be original drawings of famous musicians faces. I was just wondering if we would need permission to have the designs on a t-shirt?

We've also thought of a brand name but we don't know if it's already been reserved, how do we find this out?

Louis Clark
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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Louis,
I presume that you will be getting the inspiration for your drawings of musicians' faces from photographs. You need to be careful not to slavishly copy any one photograph as that could amount to infringement. It would be far better to use a number of different photographs to form an impression of the singer. On that basis there should be few problems with copyright. Here's an example of a case where too close a reliance on the original photograph landed an artist in bother: Shepard Fairey v Associated Press
Implicit in your question is whether the artists concerned could object to the use of their likenesses on the tee-shirts. The answer under UK law is no. In a number of US states there are so-called rights to publicity laws which do protect the likeness of celebrities, but that doesn't apply here.
The way to find out if the name you wish to use for you company is already registered as a trade mark is to go to the UK Intellectual Property Office website and under Trade Marks, select the Online TM Services option, then under Find trade marks, select By word or image. Insert your word(s) into the box with the red outline entitled Text then click on Search. Assuming this brings up some results, you need to examine those that are either exactly the same as you word(s) or a close match to see which classes they are registered in. Classes 24 and 25 cover textiles and clothing, so if the word is already registered in one or both of these, you should not try to use it. Bear in mind that trade mark infringement can also occur between marks registered in different classes if there is a likelihood of confusion in the minds of the public.
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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