Legal Question in Intellectual Property in North Carolina

I have a couple of quick questions. I am in the sign making business. I mainly deal with vinyl signs etc. My questions are:

1. If I am making a sign for a restaurant or anyone for that matter and they want me to cut something out to stick on their window or wall with the Coca-Cola logo or name or some other image, can I legally sell this to them and not violate any trademark laws? It would seem to me I could since they are registered to sell coke products. IF I can’t then every fast food place in America has copyright violations since almost ALL drive through boards have a coke pictured or the wording coca-cola. I am sure Coke didn’t produce this lightable facing. Also, I recently did a sign for a Liberty Tax. The owner had rights to use Liberty Tax marks. I assume I can cut his lady liberty logo and sell to him without violating any laws.

Also, can names be trademarked? For example, can I legally sell “Gone but not forgotten” with the name Dale Earnhardt underneath it. I realize he is a famous Nascar driver, but I actually knew a deceased person named Dale Earnhardt (not the driver) What if his wife wanted this? Pushing the limit even more, could I also do something like the number 3 then his name underneath that? Again, anyone with this name that races might want this. Do I need to see hard prof the name is actually Dale Earnhardt before I do this?

Finally, If someone wants me to cut out a UNC Tar heels logo to sell them and they sign a statement stating they have permission to use or purchase this logo as they wish from the University, can I legally sell it to them. Maybe they are the president of the UNC college. In other words does this relieve me of the liability, or do I have to see proof they can legally use this mark? How much is the burden of proof on me? Thanks in advance for your response.

Asked on 6/10/10, 12:22 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Kevin B. Murphy Franchise Foundations, APC

If you expect an attorney to answer these questions, repost them. When you do, ask just one simple question that will have one answer. Look at how many question marks you have in your 3 paragraphs. There's no way an attorney will get involved. Consult with an attorney in your area for specifics.

Kevin B. Murphy, B.S., M.B.A., J.D. - Mr. Franchise

Franchise Attorney

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Answered on 6/11/10, 7:10 am

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