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Legal Discussion on OE Grade Replica Body Stickers (VINs, Color Code, Warnings, etc)

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  • Legal Discussion on OE Grade Replica Body Stickers (VINs, Color Code, Warnings, etc)

    Some of you may have seen that Jim E and I (along with a talented Illustrator artist) have found ways to replicate most all of the original E36 body stickers to an OE grade level. This includes using OE material and a laser etching process. This far exceeds the pixelated vinyl printed junk Pukar offers the community and the few stickers that Future Classic offers. The Bulgarian ones seen on eBay use OE material but fail horribly at the art and etching portion.

    My question and topic I'd like to have input on is the legality of making these. I'm enjoying this so much that I feel like it could be a viable service/product to offer everyone (and to every car brand). Replacing a sticker set on a car I have in my possession for restoration I'm sure is fine. Selling these online opens up a lot of questions. BMW has their trademarks on the logos that some stickers posses and then the moral dilemma of replacement body VIN tags being used on replacement panels. There might even be some mandates against possessing replicated VINs, though from research this seems to be more of an issue with the stamped VINs found on the metal of the car vs a replaceable sticker.

    We all see stickers like this getting replicated for restoration projects (not limited to E36). I'd like to do this right. I'm also tired of scummy products like Pukar being passed off as "OE grade" when they are far from correct. Anyone wanting original details deserves better in their restoration goals. Does anyone have first hand input on this situation?

    To add; BMW does still offer some of these stickers but they are no where near original looking and vary in style every time you order. Some they will not remake and some are NLA.






    MSportParts | Braymond141

  • #2
    I love the look of your reproduction stickers, they are as close to dead-on as anything I've seen.

    My .2 cents as someone who has worked in brand marketing for a few large corporations. IP law is pretty cut and dry, oftentimes it looks like the big bad brand is picking on the little guy by sending a cease & desist, but the truth is that brands must defend their trademarks against profiteering / unauthorized usage or there is a risk that a 3rd party can make a claim to the mark. The brand even needs to regularly present cases where they are defending their mark to maintain clear ownership. Annoying, I know. So regarding the legality, I believe it is infringement but is it enough that anyone at BMW would care? Who knows, but it sure isn't a fun thing to get caught in the middle of.

    My personal opinion would be to steer clear of putting the roundel on anything, but I think the rest would fly under the radar. I noticed a few years ago that Future Classic was selling reproduction window stickers (an example that could be shown as a precedent). They are void of any BMW logos (tackily replaced with FC logos) but certainly contain the text BMW, VINs, associated trim codes, etc. They have been at it for a while and it doesn't appear that BMW has put the squash on it. That may be an example to refer to on how much 'leeway' you could have here.

    If you felt like swinging for the fences, it may be interesting to send some samples to BMW's corporate IP attorney, and kindly ask for permission to create these in limited quantities for classic restorations under their approval (let them sign off on the design). Course, they would now have you on the radar, but maybe it's good to be bold? lol.

    Again, just a moderately informed opinion from a guy with some experience in these things. Def, not a lawyer.





    Comment


    • #3
      Your stickers look brilliant. I hope you can get some solid legal advice to allow you to make these available to the public.
      Sorry to swing this on a tangent. Is the Pukar one even spelled correctly?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bimmertav View Post
        Sorry to swing this on a tangent. Is the Pukar one even spelled correctly?
        I just noticed that. Nope. lol.

        MSportParts | Braymond141

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jayson View Post
          I love the look of your reproduction stickers, they are as close to dead-on as anything I've seen.

          My .2 cents as someone who has worked in brand marketing for a few large corporations. IP law is pretty cut and dry, oftentimes it looks like the big bad brand is picking on the little guy by sending a cease & desist, but the truth is that brands must defend their trademarks against profiteering / unauthorized usage or there is a risk that a 3rd party can make a claim to the mark. The brand even needs to regularly present cases where they are defending their mark to maintain clear ownership. Annoying, I know. So regarding the legality, I believe it is infringement but is it enough that anyone at BMW would care? Who knows, but it sure isn't a fun thing to get caught in the middle of.

          My personal opinion would be to steer clear of putting the roundel on anything, but I think the rest would fly under the radar. I noticed a few years ago that Future Classic was selling reproduction window stickers (an example that could be shown as a precedent). They are void of any BMW logos (tackily replaced with FC logos) but certainly contain the text BMW, VINs, associated trim codes, etc. They have been at it for a while and it doesn't appear that BMW has put the squash on it. That may be an example to refer to on how much 'leeway' you could have here.

          If you felt like swinging for the fences, it may be interesting to send some samples to BMW's corporate IP attorney, and kindly ask for permission to create these in limited quantities for classic restorations under their approval (let them sign off on the design). Course, they would now have you on the radar, but maybe it's good to be bold? lol.

          Again, just a moderately informed opinion from a guy with some experience in these things. Def, not a lawyer.




          Thank you!

          I've already got a taste of that which is why I want it done right. I will use some contacts at BMW to see if I can get some type of approved licensing agreement. I just don't see how Pukar has been at it so long and hasn't been dinged. In the mean time I have purchased a professional laser machine to make mine even better. Right now they are done very slowly on a hobby grade setup. The tire pressure sticker takes 8 hours on this setup. The new machine will be in the minutes range and be extremely consistent.

          MSportParts | Braymond141

          Comment


          • #6
            While brands to protect their IP, the fact Pukar and the ones on Ebay have been there for a long time, I would expect BMW to know about it. And they don't seem to bother really.

            Dang, 8 hourse for that one sticker. I was seeing a waterjet cutter at work speedwise in my head.

            While the '615' color label is truly excellent, I 'hate' it, because it's BMW's generic color label, where you tell them the color and that is what you get. In the past they had a nice dedicated color sticker for every color, so with its own p/n. Are you going to offer these too? These have a totally different font. The '615' sticker on an older car always screams "not factory original" to me.
            But I might be wrong. The online ETK's say that '615' sticker is from 11/97, when the E36 was still produced. So they might have actually introduced these and put them on the E36 on the assembly line.

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            • #7
              I'd like to echo what jayson had to say. I do hope that you approach BMW to see if you can be the "official" source for these.
              Your work is widely known as THE best, I *ABSOLUTELY* would love to purchase some for my cars.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CaptainSquishyCheeks View Post
                I'd like to echo what jayson had to say. I do hope that you approach BMW to see if you can be the "official" source for these.
                Your work is widely known as THE best, I *ABSOLUTELY* would love to purchase some for my cars.
                I third that. I hope you can find a way to have some sort of licensing agreement with BMW to be able to produce these with no apprehension. I would love to purchase new body stickers for my car.

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                • #9
                  You should make these for Porsches if you want to really make some money. Those guys will eat this kind of stuff out of the palm of your hand.

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                  • #10
                    I think unless you make and sell hundreds of thousands of those, nobody in the corporate world would even notice.
                    I'd definitely get a set for all of my cars!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Braymond141 View Post

                      I just noticed that. Nope. lol.
                      This might be intentional if they think it will (or if it in fact does) provide some legal insulation from infringement.

                      I'll echo the thought of reaching out to BMW. Either to license or to supply to them. Especially if yours look better / more original than what they make in-house. This might be a good example of something it makes sense for them to outsource with you as their supplier. Working through BMW Classic might be a better avenue as well since they're likely more used to working with craftsmen for parts that were NLA before anyone knew what NLA meant.

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