The tattoo on your body might not really be yours

Sep 1, 2016

Sharp-eyed viewers of the recently-concluded Summer Olympics might have noticed that American swimmers Matt Greves and Ryan Lochte both have tattoos of the Olympic rings on their biceps. 

They’re not the only athletes to do that, but is it legal? Can you decide to express your love for your Harley-Davidson by inking the company’s logo on your body?

“I see so many people with tattoos… of Harley Davidson or their own interpretation of their favorite brand, and I really started thinking about why people do that and the thought process that goes into it,” said law professor Shontavia Johnson.

That inspired Johnson to look further into tattoos and the brands they embody.

But that's not all that inspired Johnson. She said around that time, lawsuits dealing with tattoos and copyright law began to surface.

To hear about those lawsuits and whether tattoos can, in fact, infringe upon copyright law, listen above.


Shontavia Johnson is director of the Intellectual Property Law Center at Drake University. She wrote an article titled “Who owns your tattoo? Maybe not you” for TheConversation.com.

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