I'm a small business targeting name tags to the individual worker. Some orders are from the businesses themselves, but others are for lone workers that seek a better name tag. When a lone McDonalds, Best Buy, Chick-fil-a, etc. employee comes to me and wants the golden arches or other logo on their name tag, am I opening up an infringement or other liability?

The question keeps haunting me, but I think that the ordering party is essentially performing like an agent of their company and authorizing the usage of the logo. Please let me know if I'm woefully mistaken.

So that covers the manufacturing, but then I'm wondering if it is a different matter when I post a product for sale online that's particularly advertising the "Customized McDonalds Name Tag w/Logo" as the base product. If the on-demand making of them is allowed, then is this any worse?

Any input so that I don't step on my own feet would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  • 1
    This is not an answer but I will say anecdotally that many online 'design your own X' companies will refuse to print any copyrighted images even though I am the one supplying them with the image and they are only selling the product directly to me. Whether this is because they have all received similar legal advice or an abundance of caution is left to the reader.
    – Brian R
    Oct 17 '19 at 16:48

I am pretty confident that one can freely buy and sell such items as police officer badges, purple heart medals, doctor's white coats, etc. If there is a violation of the law, it is when one uses a police officer badge to make an arrest when one is not a police officer, purple heart medal to obtain a material benefit that is ordinarily only available to veterans, or a doctor's white coat to impersonate a doctor.

IANAL, but I think that if one of your clients uses your product to fraudulently obtain the respect and/or authority that society pays to McWorkers, then it is on them not you.

  • If you are analogizing police badges to McDonalds's name tags, he is not just selling police badges - he is making phony police badges. Oct 16 '19 at 21:04
  • @GeorgeWhite a police badge is not a phone police badge until it is used fraudulently.
    – emory
    Oct 16 '19 at 21:12
  • It better not be a current federal badge U.S. Code § 701. Official badges, identification cards, other insignia U.S. Code Notes Whoever manufactures, sells, . . . of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, . . or in any other manner makes . . any engraving, . . . in the likeness of any such badge, . . imitation thereof, . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both. Some states also prohibit this - don't sell a Texas Rangers badge in Texas! Oct 16 '19 at 21:24
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    The items you list are not trademarked and not analogous. The question seems to be about selling an item with a logo that has not been licensed.
    – Damila
    Oct 17 '19 at 1:02
  • 1
    @JohnFisher My comment was directed at the answer, not at your question.
    – Damila
    Oct 17 '19 at 3:07

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