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Copyright & Trademark Information

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Copyright & Trademark Information

Postby Jeremy on Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:08 pm

This topic has been beat to death on these forums. We want to clear this up once and for all, in simple plain English so that everyone can understand.

Here you go:
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.

Trademark infringement is a violation of the exclusive rights attached to a trademark without the authorization of the trademark owner or any licensees (provided that such authorization was within the scope of the license). Infringement may occur when one party, the "infringer", uses a trademark which is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark owned by another party, in relation to products or services which are identical or similar to the products or services which the registration covers. An owner of a trademark may commence legal proceedings against a party which infringes its registration.

Organizations such as the NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, Harley Davidson, John Deere, Jack Daniels, and literally a million other companies, have all received trademarks and copyrights on their logos, brand names, images, and symbols, etc etc. They are the sole owners of these trademarks and copyrights and they have the right to do whatever they want to do with them, and also have the rights to deny others to use them.
Using a trademarked image, logo, likeness, symbol or any of that, without permission from the owner, is ILLEGAL. Let me say that another way: If you are not licensed/authorized to use a trademarked or copyrighted item, it is ILLEGAL to do so.

So what does all of that mean in relation to cornhole? This means that unless are authorized by the owner, you can not make cornhole boards or bags with any trademarked or copyrighted image on it. You can not make them for personal use. You can not make them for sale. You can not donate them to a charity or non-profit or church or fundraiser. You can not give them to someone as a gift. You can not make them and then hang them on the wall of your man cave so that only you and your friends see them.

Painting the image from scratch does not make it legal. Changing the image slightly or adding on to their logo does not make it legal. There is a “reasonable likeness” clause, much like using a 6’ 7” black male wearing number 32 and calling him Maquille O’Neill for a health drink commercial would be illegal. “It’s not the same thing as Shaquille O’Neal!”. Ahhhh, but it is. ILLEGAL.

There is no way around the system. There is no trick, or back door, or loophole. There is no special allowance that gives you permission for a one time use. Flat out, and to say this once again: Unless you have permission to use the image, you can not do it.

Sure some companies will issue special permissions for one time use. Some companies will grant you permission to use their image as many times as you want to, and not charge you. But the vast majority, especially when it comes to sports organizations and well know businesses, will charge you. There is an entire process that needs to be followed. If you’re reading this, then you must have access to the internet, right? Great. Go to http://www.Google.com and search for the information. You want to be able to make NFL boards? Search for NFL merchandise license. You people know how Google works. Just do it. All the information and contact names and addresses and emails and phone numbers you need are right there on the web.

“What are the penalties?” “Why do people still do it if it’s illegal?” “Everyone seems to be making boards with sports logos on them, so you must be wrong.” I can understand why people would feel this way. Decals are readily available. You can buy cornhole boards for any sports team you want just by searching the internet. I get it. It seems so easy that it must be legal. It’s not. So far, I have not seen one single Intellectual Property attorney join this forum, therefore, there is nobody here qualified to answer these questions or give you direction on how to handle yourselves in regards to the issue at hand. Sure, any Joe Schmo from this forum can tell you how to get around the system or give you advice. But let me ask you something: Is Joe Schmo going to let you and your family stay at his house for 10 years while you pay off the fines to CAPS or the MLB or the NFL? I don’t think so. I think he’d deny ever giving you any advice, then delete his account here, and disappear, leaving you to deal with the legalities of stealing someone else’s work. Again, let’s make this crystal clear: IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT TRADEMARKS AND/OR COPYRIGHTS, GO FIND AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEY. You can find one in your phone book or on the internet.

So, all of this being said, we hope it’s finally clear enough for you. Do not ask on this website about this anymore. Do not message people about it. Do not bring it up, period.

Thanks.
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Jeremy
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