With 20% of Americans having tattoos you would think the issues of trademarks and tattoos would have been settled a long time ago. However there have been several recent high profile case involving tattoos, trademarks and copyright. One of the more notable was LeBron James’s tattoo artist suing the video game NBA 2K16 for copyright infringement. The artist was suing on the grounds that the game recreated his tattoos without permission. The case is still pending.
Technically speaking under the current laws tattoos would most likely be considered copyrightable and therefore can be protected. There are three things required in order to get copyright protection.
Pretty much any kind of art is considered a work of authorship. Since tattoos easily fall under the umbrella of art, they get the first checkmark. The standard for originality is historically fairly low for copyright, so as long as the tattoo isn’t a clear copy say hello to checkmark number two. Finally, tattoos are certainly fixed so that rounds out the third requirement.
As you can see, under the very general requirements, tattoos can be protected under copyright law. So tattoo artists might a have a legal leg to stand on if they want to sue a video game, but what about brands suing everyday people?
Brand fanatics getting inked up with their beloved logos isn’t unheard of, but these fanatics might be putting themselves in hot water. Since nearly anything can be trademarked, tattoos are definitely fair game.
If a company saw you walking down the street with their logo inked on your arm they could claim three things.
It’s highly unlikely a big brand would bother picking a legal fight with an average Joe who is clearly a fan of theirs, but the language of the law certainly allows them the opportunity to do so.
If you need help with any kind of help with trademarks call the Scottsdale trademark attorneys at Parsons & Goltry.
"Our company has worked with a number of patent attorneys and were so pleased when we began working with Parsons & Goltry nearly a decade ago. Mike Goltry's knowledge and attention to detail has enabled us to have numerous products patented and trademarks registered. We highly recommend this Law Firm."
"Michael Goltry is the most professional, honest and effective patent attorney whom I ever met in my 40 year professional engineering career. I started to work with him over 20 years ago and plan to work indefinitely."
"Mr. Goltry took a provisional patent that we'd filed ourselves, and quickly and professionally turned our innovation into U.S. and foreign applications. His [patent claims] were a thing of beauty, and I was amazed by how deftly he countered the inevitable office actions. His language held up, and the U.S. Patent just issued. He was easy and efficient to work with, and his fees were remarkably reasonable. We're not planning to go anywhere else, ever."
"I applied for a patent through Parsons & Goltry. After being on the docket for 2 years at the USPTO, I received notification that my patent request had been denied. Michael Goltry contacted me immediately to review my options. After I informed him of my decision to move forward, he filed a response to the USPTO. In his response he got the examiner to fully understand the claims in the patent application and the "denied" decision was reversed. I was able to secure and receive a "patent granted" decision. Thank you, Michael Goltry."
10643 North Frank Lloyd
Wright Blvd. Suite 201
Scottsdale, AZ 85259
Phone: (480) 991-3435
Open 9-5pm Monday - Friday
Arizona’s premiere patent attorneys serving clients throughout the U.S. and internationally for almost 30 years.
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, we serve clients locally as well as throughout the United States and across the world.