This article was written by Bobbie Seacrist
There has been some confusion with Trademarks the past couple of days. Mostly it has been centered around what can be used and what can’t. Well the answer is pretty simple.. If it is trademarked it can’t be used period.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase, used to identify a particular manufacturer or seller’s products and distinguish them from the products of another.
Think about some things you see everyday that are identifiable. McDonalds, Nike, Nikon, Disney, Harley Davidson, Toyota, etc. All of these things are trademarked. Any use of logos, characters or designs from any trademarked company should never be used for anything. Trademarks are even more slippery than copyrights. Using a trademarked item can lead to serious problems if you are caught. Filing for a trademark entails following many legal requirements. The process is hard and involves some serious dead lines. Most people that are filing for a trademark actually have attorneys to help with the process. Because of this companies protect their trademarks fiercely.
Most taggers have a thought process that includes “I am a little tagger, who is going to know if I use this”. While that may be true you must think of what could happen if you are caught. Trademarks are more protected than anything copyrighted. Companies use them to distinguish themselves from another company that may be selling a similar item. They do not take kindly to it being compromised in anyway, even if it is just a tag. Plus due to e-mails that have been written attention is being drawn to the tagging community. It is nothing for any company to decide to see what is going on in the tagging community and check to see if their trademark is being used in any way.
Another big question has been about scrap kits. Some of you have asked about them because you see scraps being sold with trademark items in them. My advice is don’t buy them.
You are buying them to use and if there is a trademarked item in there you can’t use it. The two most notable lately is Playboy and Harley Davidson. Anything with these two trademarks cannot be used in your tags. I am not just talking about CDO tags, I am talking about any tags at all. However, any CDO tags that have any trademarked item in them will be deemed illegal and unusable.
I am guilty of using Playboy. Before I knew any better I would make tags using the Playboy logo. It is hard to know what you can use and what you can’t. It is such a fine line to walk and sometimes very frustrating. I myself get frustrated sometimes trying to figure out if something is usable or not. I am always here to help.
Also, I invite you to read about trademarks, their laws, and how they are protected here : http://www.uspto.gov/ I find it very interesting and it is amazing to see the process that you actually have to go through to trademark an item. It brings new respect to company owners and artists that have completed this process to trademark their brand.