Q: I create custom sports cards. Is there any way for me to sell my custom cards legally?
So I design and print custom sports cards myself and recently I have been getting a lot of interest in them. I understand Panini has the sole rights to create and sell NBA cards. Is there a way to sell the cards I create without infringing on Panini’s rights? I’ve heard altering existing sports cards and selling them would be legal because that would fall under aftermarket products which is legal. Kind of like customizing sneakers and selling them. Is this true? If it is, what are the specifics? Does any of the original card need to be visible? Can I just take a sports card and cover the front and back with my own design and have that be considered an “aftermarket product”? Thanks for your help.
A: There is not enough information here to answer this fully, but here are some areas of potential concern:
1) The NBA's rights to the trademarks of teams and their own marks
2) The Teams' rights to their own marks
3) Copyright rights to the photos you're using
4) The rights of publicity that the players have in their own names/images/likenesses
5) The rights to create derivative works from any copyright materials you use
Your business plan raises a mess of IP issues that really demand a thorough review from an experienced IP attorney. Until that time happens, I would advise against publishing any of your work.
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