Phoenix, AZ asked in Copyright and Trademark for Arizona

Q: I have designed a few t-shirt designs with specific words on them in addition to the design. will a copywrite protect?

I want to incorporate the names of the local universities mascots into my designs. I have already contacted the 4 major Az universities and they are interested but they suggested I contact companies that already have their permission/ license to print to save me money because of the Universities trademark. It was also suggested I copywrite/trademark my designs "without any university trademarked words" before I add the various mascot names.

I don't want to go to the companies that the universities have suggested, show them my designs and have them decide they want to do them then take my idea and use them as theirs because my idea is a unique niche in university pride shirts.

Thank you in advance,

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: Copyright protects original works of authorship, whereas a trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others.

If you haven't done so, you should register your copyright with the federal copyright office. However, in your case, it sounds that since your plan to commercialize these products (design), you should register the t-shirts as a trademark. You can do so by following the instructions at: It is somewhat a lengthy process (perhaps a year, more or less) but it protect if infringement takes place. A trademark gives you a greater protection over a copyright.

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