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I would like to know what the law states regarding the use of logos/names on retail apparel for names such as Ithaca & Browning.

Sheboygan, WI |

I have considered opening up an online business where I embroider or screen print the names of well known gun and sporting companies on clothing such as hats, jackets or shirts and then turn around and sell them to the general public via the internet. Can you please tell me if there would be a problem staying within the law if I did so?

Thank you.

Attorney Answers 6

Posted

The law says that you would be infringing on their trademarks. Don't do it withou getting a license from them first.

I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.

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Posted

Your use of these names would be blatantly illegal in violation of trademark law. You would be creating a significant likelihood of consumer confusion insofar as consumers might believe that your apparel was officially associated with the owners of these brand names. This is not even a close question.

Whenever someone attempts to profit by associating his products or business services with famous trademarks or celebrities, he is engaging in improper conduct. You are trying to profit without doing the heavy lifting and hard work required to develop an original brand name. Frankly, it disturbs me that so many obviously bright people are under the misconception that this type of conduct might be appropriate. There are some serious deficiencies in our educational system.

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Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Agreed. In fact, Browning already licenses those items. What you propose would be like driving a Maserati down a dead end street - it would end suddenly.

Posted

As former head Intellectual Property Counsel for Winchester, I negotiated trademark licenses with both Ithaca and Browning, some as licensor and some as licensee. In fact, Browning now has the exclusive license for manufacture and sale of Winchester guns. I personally negotiated that deal nearly 25 years ago in Versailles, France and New Haven, Connecticut. I know for certain that Browning either makes or licenses all the items you mention. They will sue you in a heartbeat if you infringe their apparel line. It is a major source of revenue for them and they have incontestable registrations to back them up. Not only would there be a problem, they would shut you down and put you out of business in short order if you persisted. Don't even think about it.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Asker, a perhaps more feasible approach is to call Browning and ask to join become a licensee. Then you would be official. However, it won't be cheap and they are quite selective. Browning has positioned their line as a top of the line premium product, so you would have to have really good stuff. No doubt that is why you want to use their name. Ithaca on the other hand has traditionally had a somewhat low end image. I can assure you that if you start out as an infringer and talk to your friends, talk to their friends, talk to them, You "will NEVER, EVER, EVER be getting back together again" with Browning or Ithaca, to paraphrase Taylor Swift. So either do it legal or don't do it. I used to joke with the trademark counsel for Browning "Don't mess with my American Legend, I work for a gun company. We are also used to pulling the legal trigger smoothly and deadly and we do have the ammunition, too." His response was usually something like "Ditto, and we use the same ammunition."

Posted

I agree with my colleagues. This would be a blatant violation of the exclusive trademark rights of these companies and is the type of action that trademark law is suppose to protect against. I urge you contact said companies inquiring about the process to obtain a license.

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Posted

Yes. You would be in violation of trademark law. If you want to pursue this business model, you would need to negotiate a licensing agreement with the companies to use their trademarks. Consult with a business lawyer who will be able to help you with a licensing agreement or advise on other possibilities for your venture.

The information provided is intended for informational purposes only and should not substitute for the advice and counsel of an attorney. This information does not constitute legal advice. We ask that you consult with a lawyer, as your facts are unique and because each situation requires analysis from many different perspectives. We cannot be responsible if you rely on information based on this website without the consultation of an attorney.

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Posted

Short Answer: Don't...

Why would you even think that you could do that? Unless you have verified that these companies do not enforce their trademarks or that the names have become generic.

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