If I were to recreate a water bottle that I saw in a movie by making it an actual product and reselling it would that be legal?

Asked over 1 year ago - Los Angeles, CA

It was an animation movie.
It would not be using an image, I would just be making a water bottle in the same color scheme that would have the same words/font as the one that I saw in the movie. The words do reference the movie but the exact words themselves are very generic, and I feel like it would be difficult for someone to own the rights to them.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Glen Nuttall

    Contributor Level 10


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This would be a risky proposition. I understand that the words are very generic, and that might help your situation somewhat, but the movie-owner could sue you for copyright infringement, and during the lawsuit you would have to admit that 1) you got the idea from the movie; 2) you patterned your product's color scheme after the product you saw in the movie; and 3) you use the same words on your bottle that are used in the movie's bottle. The facts here scream out "copy", and that won't help you if the movie-owner decides to come after you.
    On the other hand, if you approach the movie-owner, you may get a cheap license to make and sell the water bottle - having your bottle out there potentially helps market the movie, so the movie-maker may be happy to have you market and sell it.

    (949) 721-6380 - Of course there's more to it! Plus, we don't have an attorney-client relationship. This brief... more
  2. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If the water bottle as used or shown furthered the plot of the movie in some meaningful way then I can, kinda sorta, envision a claim by the movie producer against you if you made and sold the same water bottle. But if the water bottle was simply a prop -- that is, something without any significance to the plot of the movie -- then, contrary to my colleagues, I see NO colorable claim against anyone for selling an identical-appearing water bottle [including if it displays words that "reference" the movie (whatever that means)]. Only your own intellectual property attorney can provide you with actionable advice. Good luck.

    The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and... more
  3. Michael Essien

    Contributor Level 9


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your question smacks of copying an item from somewhere. That it was in an animated movie does not mean lacking in copyright. Using words from the movie further increases the likelihood that you may not be adding enough creativity to even claim such. As this cases involve more than asked in a few lines, consult an intellectual property lawyer to assure that you are not 'buying a lawsuit.'

    This is not a legal advice as I do not have an attorney-client privilege with you. You should retain a lawyer... more
  4. Ivan Jose Parron


    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . As my colleague noted, copying something from a movie may be a risk proposition. You should consult with an entertainment or intellectual property attorney.

  5. Philip Leon Marcus

    Contributor Level 16


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . As you can see, experienced IP lawyers will disagree on this. I come down on the side with Daniel Ballard. A few words cannot be copyright, because--as the Copyright Office sees it--there is too little creative input. And I doubt the words on the bottle are part of the script sent in to register. Unless…those words are actually the name of the movie, which is likely trademark-registered. So I think there is no valid claim of infringement. And yet I am also going to recommend you seek a license anyway. It is a bit risky, in that it alerts the producer to your plan. So, finally, I think you need a consult with an IP lawyer where you can state more of the facts than you can here, and get a more helpful opinion.

    Licensed in Maryland with offices in Maryland and Oregon. Information here is general, does not create a lawyer-... more
  6. David M. Slater

    Contributor Level 11

    Answered . I come down more on the side of Glen Nuttall that your copying of the bottle design, color and words would involve a large risk of copyright infringement. The bottle in the animation was a unique and original work of authoriship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Your copying of that bottle and distributing those "copies" would invite a sizable risk of litigation, and the outcome could be bad for you. I agree with the advice that you should try to obtain the copyright holder's written consent for your proposed usage.

    No attorney client relationship is created with this post and no legal advice has been rendered. This is for... more

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