I am thinking of printing and selling some tshirts that use stock ticker symbols. I'm pretty sure a ticker symbol can be considered a trademark in some cases. For example, if the company uses it as a trademark (like Met Life's ticker MET). I image, Google's ticker GOOG could be easily confused with their brand. A company like AT&T has the ticker symbol T (just the one letter) which I could probably get away with unless it really refers to AT&T.
These are just my thoughts, I'd love to hear any professional opinions on this.
My question mainly has to do with the extent to which something qualifies as a parody. Let's say I put a ticker symbol over a stock chart integrating the two elements in some way, would that be a valid parody? What sorts of measures are used to define the limits of parody? I'm not making a 7-up "up-yours" logo or anything that obvious, I'm looking to see what I can do without licensing something that no one will ever license to me.
I also have one other question: If I contact companies asking them to use their ticker (thinking of very small public companies) for some products, can I legally offer a "no-parody" policy as part of a licensing agreement? For example more or less "I promise not to make or sell any parodies of your logo, trademarks, etc including anything negative as long as you agree to let me use your ticker symbol in exchange for xx% of the profits on what i sell." Is this illegal? Maybe as some sort of blackmail or extortion? I mean, I have a right to parody so it's not like I'm breaking any laws but it almost seems like it might be illegal.