Sign in to follow this  
mrauh

Legal question: use of brand names

Recommended Posts

Hi all,I have got a legal question. I'm working on a freeware scenery in which I also want to depict signs with company names such as car rental companies and hotels. Can I do that without asking the companies for permission? The reason I ask is that there are appearantly lawers here in Germany who make a killing by searching for copyrighted material that is used on private web pages and then demanding huge sums from the owners of these sites if they failed to ask the companies for permission. On a side note: There are plans to make a law here to protect the web page creators from outrageous fees.Thanks for any input,Matthias

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

Hmmm, if you're in Germany then the only peeps who can help or give advice are Germans. That lets out the vast majority of folks here. Not putting anyone down; it's just the facts of life. I could give you what happens here (US of A) but it wouldn't do you a bit of good. That said, I'd take a look at the makers of things like toy trains and the like. They surely have little billboards and things that have brand advertising on them. Or you could pick a company and write and ask them about it. Worst they could do is say "No!":D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the quick reply. Since I want to publish the project on the net and the companies in question are American ones I'd certainly be interested to hear how that issue is handled in the states. So if you have the time please let me know.Thanks,Matthias

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am by no means an expert on U.S corporate law, however since you are going to "publish" your creation with the use of trademarked corporate names ( and I assume logos ), you're best bet is to contact the legal departments of the companies in question. Several years ago American Airlines did not allow AI developers to use their name or repaints with their products. They have since recinded that policy. In the U.S., a corporation's trademark (name or logo) is protected by law and can not be reproduced by another corporation without the permission from that corporation. A corporation can be something like MS or it can just be one individual. If it's trademarked, I'd ask their permission first. Maybe a corporate attorney will read your post to give you a detailed answer.John M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Technically any use of trademarked or copyrighted material without the permission of the owner is illegal.Of course then we would have no repaints of airliners, etc.The best advice - talk to a lawyer. Another recommendation - look for other freeware sceneries and see if the same images are used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a lawyer, and I suspect if you were to ask a laywer he/she could give you a 1000 reasons why you can't use any trade or service mark materials in any addon.On a practical basis, some companies/organizations actively market their properties under license schemes (such as using Disney characters) to generate side income. These companies are generally agressive in pursuing unlicensed use. Other companies not so much, unless they think it is harming a brand-image. For a freeware project, I suspect the most likely result would be a "cease & desist" letter if anything. But again, a lawyer could probably give example of much worse results. I would certainly avoid cartoon/comic characters, sports teams logos, and the like.scott s..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tough question. I guess it would be better to contact these companies and save their replies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>Technically any use of trademarked or copyrighted material>without the permission of the owner is illegal.>>Of course then we would have no repaints of airliners, etc.>>The best advice - talk to a lawyer. Another recommendation ->look for other freeware sceneries and see if the same images>are used.ok another copyright thread over the years :) I'd like to hear AVSIM's position on this since the Video forum issue that does not allow posting music to video that is copyrighted, links of the same, No photos from Airliners.net since they are copyrighted. On the otherhand there are countless repaints and photos of copyrighted logo's used and hosted. I'd also like to know how many payware vendors asked permission to make money off of airline logos that are copyrighted. I just don't understand how you can't do one thing but are allowed to do another. I have to be missing something other than my mind :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The disadvanyage of formally asking companies is that their reply will almost certainly be "no". It's the easiest response and is risk-free from their point of view. I can't see them giving away any of their rights to an individual they don't know for nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a thought, Having a logo on software that could reach many people is kinda free advertising!could be a win win situation for the comapanies and software producer.Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi MatthiasFirstly, trademarking and copyrights aren't the same thing. If you use a trademark, people can't sue you over copyrights. Secondly, the purpose of trademarks is product branding. If you use a trademark to advertise your product or trying to fool customers you are, for example, Microsoft or Avis or Hertz you would be in trouble. Company names are trademarked, yet you are still allowed to use the names, you can easily write the word Microsoft without being sued - unless you pretend to represent Microsoft.Use of logos should also be ok. It wouldn't be ok if you would offer car hire services, but obviously you aren't, nor would people who download your scenery believe so. Andy Warhol could easily paint Campbell soups. On the other hand if you display the FSX logo next to your scenery, that's not ok, because people might get the impression the scenery is done by Microsoft.>The reason I ask is that there are appearantly lawers here in Germany who make a killing by searching for copyrighted material that is used on private web pages and then demanding huge sums from the owners of these sites if they failed to ask the companies for permission.Unfortunately, trademark violation hunting is a new sport by unethical law firms. There are even firms out there which search for IP, check if the inventing company registered the IP, if not they approach the competition and tell them to register the same IP and then sue the #### out of the IP inventors. Don't ya love the way greedy lawers operate. On the other hand, they can demand all the money they want. Unless the trademark owner gets behind them, they don't have a case. And for trademark owners this is a very risky game. Who would want to risk bad publicity which a law suit over something pathetic like this could generate. The risk/gain is just a very bad ratio here. Realistically, no court would warrant any damages caused by you, so trademark owners can only loose. The trick is that these law firms simply try to bully you and scare the #### out of you. On the flip side, if you have good lawyers you may even be able to sue them back. If they don't have the trademark owners behind them, they actually may be vulnerable themselves to a lawsuit. It's illegal to enforce trademarks if you actually don't own them.What I personally would do is simply go ahead. If in due course someone tries to bully you, write back and demand proof of trademark ownership and also contact the company involved. Any reasonable company would either give their permission or simply ask you to stop distributing the scenery. They are not going to demand stacks of money for compensation, because they wouldn't have any grounds for it. Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a game developer (artist...not a lawyer:)) I can tell you our industry has very strict conventions regarding this stuff. Nothing gets into a published game these days without being scrutinized. An accurate model of a Ford Taurus or even the Empire State building won

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some countries (including the UK) there is also a Registered Design which is a monopoly right for the appearance of the whole or part of a product, resulting particularly from the features of lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and materials of a product or its ornamentation.It gives the exclusive right to make, use or stock any item incorporating a Registered Design - and take action against those who infringe this right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a freeware painter, I've thought about the legality of replicating the many airline logos in my paints.If I were to get bogged down in contacting every owner of the logos for permission, I would have surely given up after my first few paints.Fortunately, with very few exceptions (AA at one time, Disney, Peter Max...who in my opinion can keep his copyrighted 777 :-erks) most company's would neither care or waste their very expensive lawyer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this