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Can I legally sell T-shirts with NFL/MLB names and logos that I purposely mismatch? IE "Houston" above the Brewer's logo.

Houston, TX |

I would like to make and sell T-shirts and/or Jerseys as part of a concept which uses the established logos and names (with fonts, colors etc.) of Professional sports teams but which has the wrong logo below the team's name or city. For example: "Houston Astros" name, but the Cardinals logo below. Likewise, I would like to create a "Houston Texans" name and logo with "2008 Superbowl Champs!" underneath, which they are not. Am I legally allowed to market t-shirts which use trademarked logos and names in this mismatching way?

Thank you,


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Attorney answers 2


It would be ok to use a team's identifiable name, logo, colors, etc., and call them the champs when they're not, since you're commenting on them and mocking them.

As for mixing up the teams' names and logos, that's a harder question. It might be ok to mismatch team names and logos as a form of comment, although I'm not sure what the message is supposed to be.

Or, there's the chance that each team could look at it as infringement of their respective trademark, and claim that this use disparages and dilutes their mark and deliberatey causes confusion among consumers. I think sports-knowledgeable consumers, who are presumably the target market, know you've mixed up the names and logos and maybe find it funny, and the less sports-knowledgebale consumers won't get the joke, but they're not the target market.

There's a risk in doing this that you're best off discussing in greayer detail with a qualfied IP lawyer before you embark on this project.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


My short answer is an emphatic "no." I see no fair use in your proposed use of the team names and logos.

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