What do I need to do if I want to reproduce old advertisements for resale?

UPDATED: Sep 11, 2011

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What do I need to do if I want to reproduce old advertisements for resale?

Am I correct in understanding that 1920s and older are public domain? Does that mean that any image/ad can be reproduced in any format for resale? Does that also pertain to famous brands still in existence.

Asked on September 11, 2011 under Business Law, Florida


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the name of a company is on the advertisement and the company is still in business, for example "DelMonte," even though the advertisement may have lost its copyright (assuming it was copywritten), if you reproduce the old advertisements, you may have a trademark or service mark infringement claim against you.

The reason is that as long as a business or company continues in existence and it has registered a particular trade or service mark, it does not lose it so long as it is timely renewed. Examples are "Campbell's Soup," "Ford Motor Corporation" and the like.

You are not correct old advertisements are now part of the public domain. Before you start on your venture, you need to do a significant amount of research.

Good luck.

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