Can we use the name, and a sketched version of logos/building fronts of other companies in our promotional video?

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Can we use the name, and a sketched version of logos/building fronts of other companies in our promotional video?

The video states that consumers currently go to company 1, company 2, and company 3 to buy expensive items, and then states that there is an alternative option for sustainable purchasing by using our sales events – is this legal? The names of the other companies are stated, and in the video there are sketched versions of their stores, with sketched versions of their logos.

Asked on August 17, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you may not use their logos, and *may* not be able to use their names or building likenesses.

First, it is almost certainly the case that their logos are trade- or service marks. If so, they have the right to control their use, and other companies or businesses may not use those marks for their own benefit (i.e. in advertising) without permission. Note that it is possible that the look of their stores is also protected intellectual property (e.g. trademarked or copyrighted), since some business have very unique looks which are closely associated with them and help identify them to customers--think McDonalds or Starbucks. Those graphic and design elements may also  be protected intellectual property.

Second, you can generally identify another company in your advertising--e.g. the way insurance and phone service ads so commonly do--but only if it is clear that you are in no way implying a relationship between your businesses which does not exist.

Third, make sure you do not in any way defame the other business, since that could give rise to a claim against you.


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