Q.  Our Technology Education department recently acquired 3D printers.  Students create a design using computer software.  The 3D printer then creates the design and prints out the actual object.  If a student draws, for example, a professional, football team, logo and prints it, is this acceptable?

A.  The official web site of the Copyright Office of the US states, in response to the following question:

“How do I copyright a name, title, slogan or logo?
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark. ”

As per the preceding, in general, logos are not a copyright protected work, unless they contain sufficient, original authorship.  This might be difficult for you to determine. However, assuming that the football team logo is not eligible for copyright protection, it may have been registered as an official trademark of the team.  If it has, unlike Copyright, there are no Fair Use provisions for using trademarked images, which means, with a few exceptions, they could not be used without prior permission.

Overall, my recommendation would be to obtain permission prior to using an organization’s logo, due to variables in regard to the legal status of the logos and a very limited and highly interpretive set of exceptions as to when logos may be used without prior permission.

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