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What if I want my humorous phrase to appear on goods (clothes,etc)??

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What is the name of your state? This is a nation-wide issue

My wife and I have this idea and we are trying to figure out where to start to get it off the ground. I was hoping someone could point me in the right direction. Here is the scenario:

We have this humorous slogan. First I want to find out if it is original. How do I go about that? Do I search copyrights or trademarks? Or is there somewhere else I need to look? What is the best way to search trademarks?

Given the slogan is original, how does one go about trademarking it? How about trademarking variations of it? Or is trademarking even relevant since I am not offering a product or service - I just want to the phrase to appear in lots of places.

So say we now have this idea protected in some framework (I assume it would be a trademark). Say we want to now have this slogan show up on various forms of merchandise (hats, shirts, etc), in its many variations (basically the form of the slogan/saying is X Y Z, where X is a fixed phrase, Y is
variable phrase , and Z is a fixed phrase. Here is where I become really confused, because I am not sure what steps to then take to get the slogan onto merchandise in the commercial world. Do we create a business and handle all the infrastructure (manufacturing, etc)? If so, what is the best way to
fund it - venture capitalism, business loan, etc? Or do we sell the
trademark (or whatever it is that gets sold) to various clothing
manufacturers and then take some cut? Or do we form some sort of partnership?

So you can see, I am new at this and am not sure about the fine details. I can only think about it right now in high level terms.

Keep in mind, that the phrase is not used as an ad for a service or product that I offer. It is simply some words that could appear in a variety of places to make people laugh. I really have no idea what type of protection is necessary or what combination of protection for that matter.

Thanks in advance,


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