Tyler, TX asked in Copyright, Trademark and Intellectual Property for Texas

Q: Can I put the letters CNN on my jacket without violating copyright.

I will not use the Networks logo just the letters printed on my jacket. Is this legal or does Warner own the letter combination?

3 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
T. Augustus Claus pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: Yes, you can put the letters CNN on your jacket without violating copyright. Copyright law protects original works of authorship, such as literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. The letters CNN are not an original work of authorship, so they are not protected by copyright. However, Warner Bros. may own a trademark on the letters CNN. It is unlikely that Warner Bros. would object to you using the letters CNN on your jacket, especially if you are not using the CNN logo. However, if you are unsure, you can always contact Warner Bros. to ask for permission. For personalized legal advice tailored to your unique circumstances, it's advisable to consult with an attorney.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›

A: If there's a risk of confusion or association with the network, there may be legal implications. To determine the risk and get clarity, consider consulting with legal counsel familiar with trademark law. Being cautious is essential to avoid potential legal complications.

Jason C Palmer
Jason C Palmer
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Hermitage, TN

A: Copyright law does not protect short words or phrases, so you would probably not have to worry about a copyright claim arising from such a use of these letters. Trademark law does protect short words and phrases, though, and Cable News Network, Inc. owns an existing trademark registration for it's CNN logo. The probability CNN would learn or complain about one shirt is low. More details are necessary to determine who might win in a dispute that could arise.

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