I design images to be placed onto t-shirts, mugs, etc and would like to include a city name and state name with the image. The images are my own designs of area's within the city. I do have a business license.
No one owns city or state names (or countries, or other geographical designations) , so in general, you're free to use them, but in particular, it's not unlikely that there are copyrights of images and/or trademarks for t-shirts/mugs etc. owned by others that your proposed uses could infringe on.
Each image and use has to be checked out before you undertake this. See an IP lawyer for help.
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Yes, you can use the city and state as you propose; but make sure the images you are using are not protected. Please seek out specific help with that from you own intellectual property (trademark and copyright) attorney.
Best of Luck!
Legal disclaimer: This answer is not legal advice, but is for informational purposes only. My answer to your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Please contact a licensed attorney in your area for competent legal advice.
Generally, you are free to use city and state names. However, it is possible for a city name to also be a trademark for a product such as clothing or mugs. If you are using a city and state combination, it probably is unlikely that there would be any confusion, though, and therefore it is unlikely there would be trademark infringement. But that may depend on the particular trademark and design you are using.
With your designs, you just have to be careful to avoid any trademarks or copyright-protected sculptures or other works in your designs. Otherwise, there could be trademark or copyright infringement. For example if your design is of a streetfront in a given area of town and prominently displays the name of a business there, you could get in trouble for that. You should run your designs by an IP attorney when they are finished to clear them of any likely problems.
City and state names can be used--but be careful. City, states, and localities are looking for revenues and they may have legitimate legal interests in their trademarks and logos. The fact that you have a business license is irrelevant---if you profit by causing confusion with regard to the ownership of a trademark or logo belonging to a governmental agency---state of federal---you might have a big problem. It is great that you use your own designs---but cities, states and municipalities also have rights in designs of names and logos---Before embarking on this business venture, you need to review the specifics, including the images you want to use--with IP counsel. Failure to do so could be a disastrous financial mistake.
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