Cheer on Your Team Without Copyright Infringement!

Brand Infringement

Richard Rimer

August 21, 2023

Football Season is Around the Corner!

Copyright Infringement

Soon you’ll see people wearing shirts, hats and many other items bearing the logo of a favorite team. Here in the South, there’s a good chance that team is a college team (Go Dawgs!). During my career I’ve had many questions about what can and cannot be made without a license to avoid copyright infringement. The people asking are not large companies, they tend to be individuals with the hope of creating small items either for personal use or to sell. For example: an individual making themed hair bows or hats for a craft show, or maybe someone creating specifically themed bumper stickers for their cars.

Cheering without Risk of Copyright Infringement

Things get more complicated when you involve college sports in the mix. Like with any company, you cannot use the brand names, logos, taglines and other source-identifying items belonging to a college. This would be considered copyright infringement. However, there is some leeway with the use of colors. The generally accepted rule is that you cannot use the colors of a school in addition to something that identifies the school.

Copyright Infringement

For example, I could not make shirts that are red and black and say “Cheering with my 92,746 best friends,” because that clearly refers to the University of Georgia and their football stadium’s seating capacity. But, I can make a simple red and black t-shirt to wear to the game. It just can’t have any other identifying information in order to avoid infringement. If you have questions or concerns about your personally crafted items, the best thing to do is speak with Legal Counsel. Copyright infringement is a serious matter and can be the demise of your small business, even when the product you are creating seems innocent enough. Feel free to contact me if you want information about how you can cheer without fear of copyright infringement. We at Initiating Protection hope your team does well this year!