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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Can i patent what is said on a t-shirt something that has never been said before so i think you’re mixing up some areas of the law so on a t-shirt okay there are um a lot of people get this confused the the artwork or even the lettering on a t-shirt right that’s artwork in and of itself okay the way that it looks the style the font the colors uh the position on the shirt that’s art and that’s protectable under copyright law okay this one lay that out first now sometimes people that are starting clothing brands will put their actual brand name on the front of the shirt okay but what actually governs what controls under trademark law is what’s on the label right what’s on the manufacturer who owns that company behind the apparel okay so that’s what trademark plot’s all about is making sure your customers know where their goods and services come from and so it’s not necessarily under trademark law but what is on the shirt itself it’s about the company the brand behind that those goods this trademark patenting is even different right patenting is about protecting design so three-dimensional right three-dimensional i think of a water bottle you know the way that it looks under a design pattern uh also utility pads you tell you how it functions right it’s got a cool handle and holds weights and holds water right and a water tight seal it has a button that pushes and has functionality where it’s spring loaded those are all utility aspects under a utility patent there’s actually a third type of patenting called plant patents as well where you actually grow you know organic plant and you can protect the genetic you know the actual composition of those plants so uh wording is not a design of three-dimensional design or a functional utility so design sorry we’re trying to protect what’s said on a shirt is not going to be governed or patent law if what’s being said you you want to structure a company around those words right of what let’s just say it says you know what in the world right what in the world if that’s those are the words that you’re trying to protect if you’re if you’re going to start a company in a brand around what in the world and start an apparel company that’s trademark protector right that’s something we could do a search on and try to have an application submitted for to protect what in the world and you could potentially put that on the shirt but remember there’s a second layer that the way that it’s positioned or the what the what font it’s in or what color that’s in that’s technically more art but what’s actually printed on the shirt is art the fact you have a brand or label called what in the world is what’s covered by trademark that’s a long-winded way to answer your question but i hope i got a lot of covers [Music] you

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at