original question :
"If I take copy right logos such as the Honda logo and alter it, how dramatic of an alteration does it have to be to be legal?
I want to sell T Shirts and decals with the Honda logo etc. is it legal to alter the logo a little then sell it? "
the company im with, makes aftermarket parts for offroad vehicles,
we buy the vehicle, and use that to make our product templates.
wanted to use a modified version of the Honda Wing, i altered cracks through it
for the "feathers" changed to be red wight and blue, and made a vector silhouette of the vehicle,
not selling the image, simply useing it on our website as a "products coming soon" type of image.
we are not selling products that say honda or anything to that nature or trying to say honda made these parts,
is it ok to use a modified "honda wing" in reference to their vehicle that we make aftermarket parts for ?
not selling the image, not making merch with the image, or putting the image on our products, simply a splash image in reference to their product the, vehicle making parts for
Generally, a logo having a pictorial elemental may be copyrighted.
Copyright includes at least the exclusive rights to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies, and to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work, and it appears you may be proposing doing one or both of these and you may be liable for copyright infringement.
In addition, there is, at least, a trademark infringement concern if a confusingly similar trademark is used to sell/render related products/services.
However you should discuss with an intellectual property attorney in a private consultation.
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Basically, you can't do it. There are a lot of details and considerations that may alter the answer. But essentially do not do this. You have to alter it enough to be unrecognizable.
If your changed logo is similar enough to be recognized and associated with Honda it is hard to imagine how you could use it on t shirts or decals without creating a likelihood of consumer confusion about the sponsorship of your products. Connecting it to aftermarket parts makes it worse. That's more trademark than copyright, although the wing might have enough art in them to have copyright implications, if registered when it came out. The only thing you can do for aftermarket parts would be a simple text that says "fits Honda ____" or something.
This answer is written to explain situations which may come up involving intellectual property law issues. It does not give specific legal advice about specific fact situations. If you have a specific fact situation in mind you should ask for professional legal advice about the relevant facts. Seemingly minor changes in facts may change a legal opinion dramatically. Space here does not permit an explanation of all the variables in complex legal areas. Dave Brezina is an Illinois lawyer and his profession is regulated under the authority of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Although he represents clients nationally and internationally, his law practice is performed in Illinois and is not subject to regulation by other states. Dave Brezina is also a Registered Patent Attorney and a patent practice is regulated by the US Patent and Trademark Office a Federal agency and is not subject to regulation by the states. The firm, Ladas & Parry, LLP, has attorneys admitted and offices in at least Illinois, New York and California. Finally, do not post confidential information. There is no an attorney client relationship created simply by correspondence or communication with the author of this site.
As noted, you cannot present a false association, sponsorship, endorsement or other affiliation with a trademark owner or enterprise. So if your market is recognizing the Honda brand on your product it will be a problem.
If you need clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Legal, LLC on the basis of this posting.
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