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?
General Practice Lawyer
The law says that you would be infringing on their trademarks. Don't do it withou getting a license from them first.
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
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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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
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.
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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.
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.
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