For instance, can I take a T-shirt of Snoopy and re-construct it, maybe fringe the t-shirt all over etc, and re-sell the t-shirt under my design name and/or label? Or can I cut the Snoopy image out and use it as a patch for instance on a reconstructed garment or bag, bearing my label and sell it as such? Is this considered copyright infringement if there is no TM or R near the design of the orignal garment that I purchased?
Q: Can I use artwork from a t-shirt I purchased (i.e. Snoopy) or a famous figure in reconstructive design and sell my recon-design?
A: Probably not. While the "first sale" doctrine gives you the right to re-sell any clothing that you've purchased, the "first sale" doctrine does not generally give you the right to create a derivative work -- i.e., a changed version -- using the clothing, where the design or artwork in the clothing are protected by copyright and/or trademark law. When it comes to Snoopy, both copyright and trademark laws would apply.
The fact that there is neither a TM or an R near the image you want to use, does not mean the iconic Snoopy image is not a protected trademark. The Snoopy image is protected by both trademark law and copyright law. Peanuts Worldwide, LLC has a valuable franchise and will come after you with a long list of claims if they discover you are selling their imagery under your label.
Bottom line: Don't do it.
Any answer or other information posted above is general in nature and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the posting attorney, and you are urged to engage a qualified attorney who is licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.
A single shirt? Low risk. Multiple shirts, increased risk. If this is a business plan for you then high risk and you need to get a lawyer to help you clear the items. Necessary cost of business.
So far, this is free to you. Until you pay a fee, I am not your lawyer and you are not my client, so you take any free advice at your sole risk. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
While I cannot give you legal advice in this forum, it appears that you are trying to start a commercial venture. From what you have stated, there are numerous IP issues involved here, including both trademark and copyright issues. What you propose is not an advisable without first discussing it with a local IP attorney.
THIS RESPONSE IS INTENDED TO CONVEY GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. IT SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON OR TAKEN AS LEGAL ADVICE. FURTHER, THIS RESPONSE IS NOT INTENDED TO AND DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.
Good question. I agree with Molly, for the most part. There are ways around that though - potentially. Email for help in this matter.
All the best.
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