Counterfeit t-shirts, illegal use of trademarks, infringing copyright

Forgery: Among the musicians to have their logos used illegally were rock bands Nirvana and Motorhead, pop acts Justin Bieber and One Direction, and fashion label Obey (pictured)

Stephen Amblet, defending Joanne Geddes, who used to work in a bank, said that the pair had been naive.  He added: ‘This business pays tax and is registered for VAT.  ‘The problem is that she did not know she was doing anything wrong or she would have checked.’

Before we start, a huge important point, I am not a lawyer. My knowledge of law is limited to watching reruns of Rumpold of the Bailey. If you want legal advice please, please, please go to a lawyer. OK now let’s carry on.

The problem

One of the big things to remember in life is that in the eyes of the law ignorance is no defence.  As the defendants in this story found out, being naive and not knowing anything is wrong won’t stop the law coming after you. Holders of these copyrights/trademarks will often go after the smallest infringement because if they don’t they are seen not to be protecting their copyright. So even just one t-short could get you in big, big trouble. If it comes to a legal battle between you and Nike I suspect they might just have more money for legal fees than you do.

If you or a client of yours want to print a trademarked logo on a T-shirt then you must get permission from the holder of that trademark. If your client asks you to print a batch of garments with a trademarked logo because they are sponsoring an event and says he can’t get anyone to print it, there is a reason. Most reputable T-shirt companies will insist that you prove permission to use logos before printing them for you.  It is up to the client to get the sponsor to give written permission

Just to scare you a bit more have a look at this long list of cases Please don’t add your name to this list.

Of course there are more unscrupulous printers like these people

Detective Sergeant Kevin Kirton, who led the investigation, said: ‘Today’s operation has shown once again that PIPCU will come down hard on anyone we suspect of being involved in the production and distribution of digital or hard counterfeit goods. It is vitally important for businesses that they can trade in the UK in a market place that is a fair and level playing field for all.

What you should do?

However there is some good news, should you find something that goes viral in popular culture which NOT trademarked then you can use it  An example would be the ‘Je suis Charlie’ slogan. So how do you check.

Look for an identifying mark or name on the logo in question. If an image or design for a logo is copyrighted but not trademarked, it may contain a phrase that contains the word “copyright” followed by the year of copyright and the name of the copyright holder. It may also include a copyright symbol — © — and the date of copyright followed by the name of the copyright holder.

Look for the registered trademark ® symbol to determine whether a logo is trademarked. While the images used in a logo may be copyrighted by an artist, most companies register a logo as a trademark rather than a copyright. In most instances, you will be looking for trademark ownership and not copyright, as is the case with McDonald’s and the golden arch logo. The name of the company that owns the trademark for a logo will be included with the registered trademark symbol.

Then you have find the owner and get permission if you want to use that image. Good luck with that!

There is a very good essay on Wikipedia about the entire issue as it relates to Wikipedia which although not screen printing related includes a very comprehensive description of of trademark v copyright.

Copyright versus trademark

Ownership interests in an image come in a variety of legal forms, the two most basic of which are copyright and trademark rights. When people speak of “owning” an image, they most often mean that they own the copyright. Generally speaking, copyright protection is pretty broad, and it prohibits sale, use, manipulation, or even copying of someone else’s work (hence the name). Copyright standards differ from country to country.[1] For purposes of Wikipedia, U.S. copyright law governs (although Wikipedia attempts to respect all foreign copyright laws where possible; see WP:Copyright). Any created image, whether it is a picture, a logo, or an artistic design can be subject to a copyright. Although there are Administrative ways to formally register a copyright (in the United States, this is done with the Library of Congress), copyright protection does not require this, and creative works are granted copyright protection from the time they are created.

Trademark rights are different, although related. Generally speaking, a trademark is an image or logo[2] that identifies a business, product line, school, or some other venture. Normally trademarks apply to logos that identify the venture, rather than artistic works such as pictures. Although third parties can still use a trademarked image, the way they can use the image is restricted by trademark law. Most basically, if a logo is used to identify a business/organization/product, then you are not allowed to use that logo to identify or refer to another business/organization/product.


Squeegees, printing for the long run

From the FESPA website

Squeegee wear will have an effect on the quality of the screen-printed product as well as the ink usage. There are cost implications from replacement of squeegees, increased ink consumption and rejection of printed product. This article details the development of a controlled accelerated wear procedure for squeegees and accurate measurement of wear using a microscope and image analysis techniques.

via Unitex Squeegees, printing for the long run.

Info portal for screen printers launched | PrintWeek

The German Print and Media Association (BVDM) presented its online reference guide  for the very first time at Fespa.


Online information resource for European screen printers

The dual-language (English and German) project consists of an extensive collection of technical screenprinting case studies, to promote the potential of commercial, industrial and textile screenprinting.

The cross-industry project is a collaboration between printers, BVDM, Deutschen Institut Druck (DID), equipment and media manufacturers and Stuttgart Media University.

The online platform is designed to be a free resource for the European screen printing industry and will accept application and technical case studies on an ongoing basis.

via Info portal for screen printers launched | PrintWeek.

Film4 Summer Screen launches – Entertainment Focus | Entertainment Focus

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House © James BryantBack for a third year, Summer Screen Prints: the film poster exhibition curated with Print Club London, presents a series of contemporary screen-printed posters, inspired by this seasons films. You can visit the exhibition before the film begins and buy the limited-edition prints for £50 each.

via Film4 Summer Screen launches – Entertainment Focus | Entertainment Focus.

See Alastair Riley’s beautiful silkscreen prints in Ventnor

Steephill by Alastair RileySee Alastair Riley’s beautiful silkscreen prints in Ventnor

There’s a wonderful exhibition of silkscreen prints by local artist Alastair Riley at Ventnor Library at the moment, do pop along in opening hours to see it in person. from 5 May to 31 May.

via See Alastair Riley’s beautiful silkscreen prints in Ventnor.

3 Marketing Benefits of Custom T-Shirts for Businesses – Press Release Rocket

This article is by an American company but I sure our customers could use some of the marketing ideas to sell to their clients.


Custom shirts or apparel with the brand’s logo advertise and help promote the brand. “Custom printed t shirts for businesses are, in effect, walking advertisements,” explained Volcano Prints’ Chief Marketing Officer, Yan S. Huang, “You want to invest in your employees. You want to re-invest in your business. You want to also invest in your customers. What better way to do all three than to give your employees and customers custom shirts with your company’s brand on it?”

Branded t shirts promote company culture and organizational unity. Volcano Prints gave the analogy of team uniforms in sports. These custom branded pieces of apparel allow team members to wear the team’s brand identity with pride. This allows for the individuals on the team to operate, share goals and be perceived as a unit.

Branded shirts are conversation starters and can even help in recruiting talent. “From what our customers tell us, people generally comment and ask about their company when they wear branded clothing that we print for them,” said Volcano Prints representative, Marianne Dela Rosa.

via Volcano Prints Screen Printing CMO Reveals 3 Marketing Benefits of Custom T-Shirts for Businesses – Press Release Rocket.

Banksy Collection Achieves Higher Than Estimate With £459,074 At Bonhams

I had no idea Banksy did screen prints……and they are very valuable!

Banksy Collection Achieves Higher Than Estimate With £459,074 At Bonhams - ArtLyst Article image


The screen print and spray paint on card ‘Rude Copper’ (2002) sold for £32,500 ($49,381), and the screen print on paper ‘Laugh Now’ (2004) sold for £20,000 ($30,388). But one of the works sold at the other end of the spectrum; the screen print on paper ‘Silver Flag’ (2006) sold for a mere £3,500 ($5,317).

via Banksy Collection Achieves Higher Than Estimate With £459,074 At Bonhams.

Inspiration from India

With her husband already in the garment business, Preeti’s interest lay in traditional textile crafts, especially hand block prints. “If you’ve noticed, most ethnic wear today is screen printed. Craftsmen too have moved away from hand block printing and adopted screen printing since it is faster and for the wearer easy to maintain.”

via Reinventing Indian weaves – The Hindu.