How to trademark check t-shirt ideas?

So you have got an amazing T-shirt idea – alien head drawing with a bold font saying “I want to believe”. Everyone who loves X-files will love it and the design will be killer right? That’s awesome and it might be, but you have to perform a trademark search before you use that saying or you can get into a really big legal trouble with the copyright/trademark holder for selling T-shirts with a saying, which might be trademarked. Anyone who have watched x-files knows that it is really popular saying in that TV show. Anything that’s popular and well know could be trademarked so we have to check. But how do we actually check if we can use that saying on our t-shirt design that we want to create?

You go to these websites, which are global brand databases, and enter your saying “I want to believe” and check the results.

For example, using WIPO database we can see that the trademarks are still active and we cannot use that saying on our T-shirt design if we don’t want any trouble. Also, I would suggest to check all 3 of the databases just to be on the safe side.


What we can do though is to change the saying a little bit and be original, for example, let’s say “I want to leave”, which is not trademarked and create your art with that. Of course the meaning changes a bit, but it’s better than getting in trouble with the court anyway and you can still be creative while associating a little bit with your favorite TV show.

P.S. I am not a legal expert in any way and this not a legal advice, I am just an artist, who have learned from his own experiences. Always consult your lawyer with such questions!

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