Ocoee, FL asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark

Q: Is the phrase "I'm a Michigander " copyrighted? Can anyone use it on a t shirt?

Many decades ago my father sold t shirts with this phrase and a logo. It is still in use today. Can I use both the phrase and logo?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: The phrase "I'm a Michigander" itself is a general statement and not likely to be copyrighted. However, if it's combined with a specific logo or design that was created by your father and is unique, that logo may be subject to copyright protection.

If your father's logo is copyrighted and the copyright is still active, you would need permission to use it, possibly from your father or his estate if he is no longer living. Copyright protection typically lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

For the phrase, as long as it's not used with a design or in a manner that infringes on any existing trademark or copyright, you should be able to use it on a t-shirt. However, if the phrase is associated with a specific logo or design that your father created, using them together could potentially infringe on the copyright.

To ensure you're legally protected, you might consider creating a new design or logo to use with the phrase. Also, a check with a legal advisor or a copyright attorney would be beneficial to clarify the rights regarding the specific logo your father created. Remember, understanding and respecting intellectual property rights is crucial in business practices.

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