Medford, MA asked in Copyright, Products Liability, Intellectual Property and Trademark for New York

Q: Can I use 'But can you pay my bills?' on merchandise without infringing on 'Bills, Bills, Bills' by Destiny's Child?

I am a designer and what to create tshirts for women that say 'But...can you pay my bills, tho'?' or 'Can you pay my bills?'. It's for a line of clothing that I want to produce. Since it's a common phrase I figured it would not cause an issue but want to stay on the clear side.

Thanks for your help,


1 Lawyer Answer
Tania Maria Williams
Tania Maria Williams pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • West Palm Beach, FL

A: There are a couple considerations for what you're trying to do but the main consideration is if you would be able to protect it even if you used it. You may be able to use the first phrase without infringing on Queen Bey but that doesn't mean someone else doesn't have a registration in that mark. You should do a comprehensive search to be safe. You also need to take particular steps when it comes to t-shirts to ensure that your specimen is not rejected by the USPTO. Feel free to email me at if you would like additional help in reaching your goals.

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