By Trish Sawney
With the increase in homemade masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is important to understand what licensed fabric is and what one can do with it.
Licensed fabric is fabric on which there is a printed image that is protected by a registered trademark or copyright. Fabric that is produced under license requires an agreement between the fabric manufacturers and the copyright or trademark owner, to permit the reproduction of the owner’s design, characters, logo, etc., onto the fabric.
Licensed fabric typically contains a notice printed on the selvage that the fabric is ‘for individual use only’ or that it is ‘not for commercial use,’ or both. The former means that you can use the fabric to make products for yourself; however, you cannot distribute them, even if you are doing so for free. The latter means you cannot buy the licensed fabric, create your product, and then sell it for profit.
These notices are important and legally binding, yet often overlooked. Masks created from licensed fabric and then sold online most often constitutes an unauthorized use of the fabric, and could lead to penalties such as having your online listing taken down, to an interim, interlocutory or permanent injunction, damages, and even legal costs.
Therefore, although making homemade masks is laudable, be careful when using licensed fabrics as you will need authorization to distribute or selling these masks.
For more information on licensing IP, please contact us.