I'm an entrepreneur who wants to capitalize on the wild success of the mobile game Pokemon Go. There are three teams within the game that have distinctive logos, see the bird icons in the image below. My question is, if I wanted to take those logos and modify them and print those on clothing and other items for sale, would I be able to do so? How could I protect myself from litigation if I wanted to go through with this plan? Would modifying the original icons, or created brand new stylized version of the icons suffice? Would I have to put that this is unlicensed merchandise on my sale page, and would that protect me?

pokemon go teams

  • Nintendo has a very active legal department. Trying to steal a share of their merchandising market is a very, very bad idea.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


There is no such thing as "alter it by X amount and it's legal". If the original can be determined at all, it would fall under derivative work and be an infringement.

https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/copyright_myths -- See #6 and #7

And Stanford: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/2014/12/22/much-photo-need-alter-avoid-copyright-infringement-hint-cheshire-cat/

Kienitz v Sconnie Nation

And the well known Shepard Fairy/Hope poster case: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/shephard-fairey-is-fined-and-sentenced-to-probation-in-hope-poster-case/?_r=0

  • I'd like to hear more about the "transformative" law protecting art that is mentioned in the 3rd article and how it would apply in this context. "One central question was whether Mr. Fairey’s creation, which became ubiquitous on street corners and T-shirts during and after Mr. Obama’s campaign, constituted a “transformative” use of the photograph, a use that is allowed under the law so that creative expression is not stifled." Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 14:26

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