I know that if I design a shirt that has the logo of a sports team, I need permission from such team to use their exact logo. But lets say for instance (just using this team for an example) I wanted to design a shirt about Tom Brady of the New England Patriots or about that team. The shirt had a phrase that I created on my own & isn’t already used relating to the team or maybe had a cartoon imagine of Tom Brady, we use the same colors of the team, but we did not use the actual Patriots logo or actual NFL logo. Would that be allowed without needing the NFL/Patriots approval? What if we used a drawing imaging the Patriots stadium or one of the Patriots players but it wasn’t an exact photograph? What I am trying to figure out is at what point do shirt designers not need to get permission from a team / player / league / school? What items / approaches / concepts can a shirt vendor put on their clothes without needing to get permission to do so? All the time I see situations where hours following a sporting event a small scale shirt vendor (not a big name brand) is selling a shirt specific to the team or to a player on the team and I think there is no way they would have gotten permission from the team / league in that time span to approve such shirt design. Thank you in advance for your help with answering this question.
Sports team / personnel theme shirts: What am I allowed to do without needing team approval?