Last Halloween was spent rifling through a closet stuffed with “vintage” clothes going back to your grandparent’s “courting” days.  Some items - dusty, worn out – are destined for the trash; not Goodwill, but Waste Management.  Other items gave you a new perspective on design like bright paisley patterns on mini-skirts or the use of earth tones in business wear. 

The modernization of fashion has taken a turn for the casual.  Weekend wear was once stiff collars and wool knee socks.  Now, any given Saturday morning, you’ll find someone shopping in their pajama pants; devoid of any notion of social acceptability, comfort takes all.

What’s old is new again, or so they say.   One great innovation of the modern day in fashion is of course the online store.  But few online stores offer the autonomy to be your own designer.  For that, you’ll need; a place where anyone can be a custom apparel designer.

There’s a fine line between inspiration and copyright infringement.  This guide (courtesy of is to help you understand how you can go about copyrighting a custom t-shirt design or logo.

Copyright Basics:

Once a custom t-shirt, is designed, that individual holds the copyright, except in a “work for hire” situation.  For example, if an employer paid you to create a design, then the employer holds the copyright.  Therefore, the holder has the legal right to reproduce the design and prevent others from doing so.

Copyright Registration:

You must begin by registering your copyright online through the U.S. Copyright Office.  The process includes: filling out an application form, payment of a fee and depositing the t-shirt design with the office.    Online registration is the least expensive way to apply for a copyright through the U.S. Copyright Office. The online registration fee is $35 and the traditional method using the mail is $760.

In the case that you’re afraid a competitor might be working on something similar, you can pre-register for $115.  However, beware of online sites that who offer to help you.  Many may try to steal your designs or overcharge you for copyright services.

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