When is it OK to use product images on a website?

UPDATED: Jul 21, 2010

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When is it OK to use product images on a website?

A partner and I are starting a grocery delivery service at our college. We want to start an online website where people could choose the items for delivery. In this case, would it be illegal to use the images of the items we are selling?

Asked on July 21, 2010 under Business Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You need to check with the owners of the trademarks for those objects or items, which would be the manufacturer's and/or distributors. The owner of a trademark can control how, where, by whom, etc. it is used, so they have the right to say "yes" or "no" or to put other restrictions on their use. Large businesses will typically have a  person or department in charge of this, as well as a fairly standardized process, so while you should budget some time and expect to do a little paperwork, there should be nothing particularly onerous about doing this. While it's not likely that the owners of the marks (and the can, box, etc. design is probably trademarked) would complain about the use you propose, they would have the right to, and the right to have the images pulled and cause other trouble, so it's better to get their permission up front.

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