Dear Rich: I bought several $1 squishy animals and have taken pictures of them and shared the pictures with friends. If I use these pictures in a book do I infringe on the toy company’s trademark?
It's unlikely that your book will trigger an infringement lawsuit or a response from the toy company. Here's why:
- Most squishy animals ("SA") have a generic appearance with indistinguishable features. If yours are similar, it's not likely that a toy company would come after you. It's difficult to protect generic designs.
- If you're making a book that simply displays your collection of SA photos, or you're just going to be distributing your book among friends or relatives, or you don't expect to sell more than a few hundred copies, it's unlikely the toy company will bother going after you even if it had the rights.
- Unless you've created characters from your SAs and unless those characters became a sensation (books, movies) you'll probably never hear from the SA manufacturer.