by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, tattoo, trademark

Is It Infringement To Get Your Favorite Sports Team Logo Tattooed On Your Body?

from the maybe... dept

Interesting timing. Just after we were discussing the copyright implications of tattoos, jprlk points us to a recent issue of The Straight Dope, in which Cecil Adams takes on the question of the legality of tattooing your favorite sports team logo on your body somewhere. He goes over both the trademark side and the copyright side. There's no trademark issue (in most cases) because there's no "use in commerce," which is required for a trademark infringement situation. There may be a copyright issue, but Adams suggests teams would be crazy to go down that route so it's probably not an issue:
Copyright violation is an easier case to make. (Some contend a fan tattoo would constitute fair use, but I have my doubts.) The main thing is, what team or league would bother? They'd look like bullies, your pockets probably aren't that deep, and it's not like a judge is going to order you to have the tattoo lasered off. Then again, we're talking about professional sports, where conventional logic is out the window.
He's right about that last comment. After all, just look at the Washington Redskins, who have sued fans and threatened bloggers. While he hasn't done it yet, it would not surprise me to see Dan Snyder eventually go so far as to sue a fan for having a Redskins tattoo without paying him for the privilege of promoting the team.

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  1. identicon
    Michial Thompson, 14 Apr 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Trademark Case

    My spelling has always sucked, and correcting my spelling is about as much a waste of time for you as it is for me... Not saying it's bad and I do honestly try :))

    Anyway, my references to my tattoos was purely an example, the artwork for my tattoos was commissioned seperate from the tattoo artist, and was done on a work for hire contract. The Artist did "embellish" on the artwork somewhat to make it work on the canvas he was working with, but overall the pieces are close enough that he would be the one in violation of any copyrights.

    I also highly doubt that my work would be so popular that others would want it anyway, especially considering that I am less than 50% complete and still close to 300 hours under the needles anyway.

    In the tattoo realm, I tend to believe that the Artists are gennerally honest people, and respect your requests overall. My experience is that Tattoo Artists overall do an EXCELLENT job at policing themselves. Bad or Dishonest Artists don't last long in the market place, and more often than not it's the Artists that run them out long before too many innocent people get harmed.

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