Can a product review site use a company's logo, name and product photos in their review?

Asked over 3 years ago - Portland, OR

I own a website the reviews products from various manufacturers. We write tastefully with what we believe is fair and just reviews. We avoid bashing manufacturers and opt for constructive suggestions. What does the law say about use of the above mentioned for a professional review? I would imagine we can photograph all products but run a risk of copyright infringement if we use copies of their photos from the internet.

Part two of that question: do we have to provide our contact telephone number mailing address or real name to anyone legally?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Q: Can a product review site use a a company's logo, name and product photos in their review?

    R: Logo -- very likely not. Manufacture name -- yes. Product name -- yes. Product photo -- yes, if you took the photo [no if you didn't].

    Q: do we have to provide our contact telephone number mailing address or real name to anyone legally?

    R: No.

    As noted by Attorney Koslyn, you should not include on your website any material that makes it appear that anyone endorses you or your site or sponsors or is affiliated with you or your site. In fact, you should make it very clear that your product reviews are objective and not based on any input from anyone, including any of the reviewed manufacturers. Also, you need to state somewhere on the site that you receive no consideration [money or anything else of value] in exchange for your reviews -- if, in fact, that is true. You should not accept advertising money from anyone who is selling, directly or indirectly, any products that compete with any of the products that you review on your site.

    And, most importantly, you need to have an intellectual property attorney review your site before it goes live to evaluate all of the above and more. Good luck.

  2. Pamela Koslyn

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The fairness of your reviews doesn't matter, you have a right to express your OPINION, even a bad one or unfair one, especially about matters of public interest. However, if you misstate the FACTS about some product and disparage it, you could expose your site to a claim of trade libel.

    Here are the general rules, and without seeing your site's application of them, and the exact facts at issue in the situation, no one can advise you about whether your use is infringing or not.

    The test for trademark infringement is CONSUMER CONFUSION. You can certainly identify the company by their name, and if you use manufacturer's logos to identify the brands and the products, and use them only as much as is necessary for that identification, and incude a disclaimer that your site isn't affiliated with or endorsed by that TM owner, then consumers would have a hard time being confused by your site's use.

    The test for copyright infringement is SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY, so if you use someone else's creative work, such as a photo of their product, you're going to infringe on the owner of the photo's copyright.

    You might want to hire an IP lawyer to "vet" your site.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  3. Mario Sergio Golab

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . Trademark infringement is not related to tastefulness, or lack thereof. You blog can be a visceral as you wish but you should not use the logo of the company you blog about. yes, to their name.
    As to "their" photographs, I will not use them, you can use your photos, otherwise there will be copyright infringement.
    As to your 411, it is up to you, no need to do it, or not.

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