t shirt designAre you thinking of designing t-shirts for your business? If so, it is important to be informed on the dos and don’ts of printing t-shirts. Violating trademark or copyright lawswhen creating your designs can lead you to legal issues resultinginfines and penalties. This includes the use of images, photos, quotes, names and logos belonging to other companies or individuals. Therefore, before you start designing your t-shirts, research the specific guidelines that will protect you from infringement. Here are some of the things that you should never print in your t-shirt.  
  1. Trademarks, logos and names of Companies

When you are designing your t-shirts, make sure that you don’t use anyone’s trademark or company name. If you are putting names of companies on your t-shirt or logos similar to their design, make sure you get their consent. On the other hand, create designs and logos that are truly yours to avoid the hefty fine and penalties that come with trademark infringement. Although creating an original design can be overwhelming, you can keep troubles at bay if you come up with a unique design for your t-shirt.
  1. Uncalled for Dates

You should not put dates on your t-shirt especially if you are planning to sell them after the event. It is also unnecessary to place dates if the brand you are representing is less than 10 years. However, you can put a date on your shirt during events, but ensure that you print the year rather than the date or month.
  1. Photos and Artwork of Celebrities

Any image of a celebrity captured or drawn should not be printed in t-shirts. Using anyone’s picture without their authorisation is illegal and could get you in trouble. Basically, this is a violation of their rights, and they could sue you for attaining profit from it.
  1. Logo and Names of Sports Team or Universities

Do not print Images or any intellectual property belonging to sports teams, clubs and/ universities or colleges. Issues such as fines and penalties may arise when you print these images on your t-shirt. You should also not use their logos without permission.
  1. Music Lyrics

It is a copyright violation to use someone else’s lyrics without their permission. Similarly, any intellectual property of musical groups or artists such as pictures, logos and names should not be printed as t-shirt design. Just because you love the lyrics, it does not give you the right to include it in your shirt.
  1. Quotes and Phrases from Media Sources

It is not a good practice to print quotes, saying or phrases from books, movies, famous individuals, televisions, web content or painting. Although there are lines you like and would be great for your t-shirt, you risk getting sued for copyright violation. It is therefore best to come up with your own saying that does not depict the work of another. Conversely, famous quotes, phrases or saying could be used as long as you credit them accordingly by including the source of the person’s name with it.
  1. Famous Images of National Symbols, Flags and Political Figures

Pictures of these things are protected, and they could get you in trouble if printed on your t-shirt. However, if the images are not famous, you could use them since they are not protected by trademark or copyright. Similarly, parody of famous individuals can be used as long as it is not too offensive.
  1. Viral Videos, Pictures or Memes

You could land in a great trouble by using images or videos that are downloaded from the internet in your t-shirt design. Similarly, memes created from another person’s image can be a problem, and you may be sued for copyright infringement. However, you can get the pictures from sites that provide photos for commercial purposesand get written permission from the original owner. This is a safe way to use the memes and downloaded videos on your t-shirt designs.

Conclusion

Before you print any designs on your t-shirts, make sure you understand the legal aspects, so you will not be sued for trademark or copyright infringement. It is best practice not to use other peoples work or sayings in your designs; rather, create an original design. There are guidelines that you need to follow when designing t-shirts for your business to lower your risk of violating someone else’s rights. Do extensive research or consult an attorney for more information.