I have recently started a vinyl sign and graphics business and I want to know if I can legally produce and sell decals with brand name logos on them such as, Chevrolet. Companies sell cd's with brand name vector art or clipart for producing such items, but before I purchase the programs I need to know what the rules are.
Real Estate Attorney
Producing and selling those decals would probably be a trademark infringement, unless you were able to negotiate licensing deals with the trademark owners.
Trademark owners generally have a right to the benefits of customer goodwill related to their own mark, and they're strictly allowed to control any use of their mark where customers might be confused about who's making the product. So courts have found infringement in situations similar to the one that you're describing.
It's sometimes possible to talk to a trademark owner and, in exchange for some kind of financial arrangement, obtain a license to use their mark. Sometimes not. I don't know about Chevrolet in particular. Some organizations have licensing offices that smooth the way for these kinds of deals -- or small companies are often easy to approach, and they love the publicity. Other organizations might already have exclusive licensing deals in place, for instance, so they might be unapproachable. Could be worth a little research on your part.
If they do license their trademark to you, be prepared for pretty specific contract terms about how you produce the goods. Trademark owners have a legal obligation to closely supervise any use of their mark, or they risk losing their rights.
(Which makes for a side note: offhand, I'd be leery of the CDs full of famous trademarks. If you can work our a licensing deal, you'll probably get direct access to the relevant artwork.)
In any case, best of luck with the new business! And I have to end with certain disclaimers: without entering into a confidential attorney-client relationship, lawyers can't give you legal advice on which you can rely. Laws vary by state, and their application depends on often-intricate details of the facts and circumstances. As such, this answer can be a description of certain general legal principles, but it's not legal advice. I hope it's helpful to point you in the right direction, but you shouldn't rely on it. And, especially in this public forum, it doesn't create a confidential attorney client relationship.