I am building a social networking site and am trying to get users. If someone from, lets say Google or KPMG signed up on our site, am I allowed to say "meet people from Google or KPMG."
Furthermore, am i allowed to have "meet people from (have Google's or KPMG's logo)?
Of course you CAN, since you can browse to the company's site, download the graphic, and the upload it to the software that runs your website.
Whether you might be deemed to violate the rights of the company whose logo you've hijacked that way is another question. In general, if the use of the logo is a "nominative" use of the trademark, then in general if push came to shove, you'd be home free. If however it were to be deemed dilutive of a famous mark, then you'd maybe be held responsible.
If this is going to generate a significant volume of traffic, seek legal advice on the specifics.
This posting is intended for general education and isn't "legal advice." It doesn't create or evidence an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to engage an attorney in the pertinent jurisdiction for confidential legal advice on matters of any importance. -Gerry J. Elman, J.D. Elman Technology Law, P.C. Swarthmore, PA www.elman.com
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
At least temporarily until a Judge orders you to stop, you can. If you mean can you do it legally, probably not without substantial risk. What would be more reasonable would be to be truthful and minimal in your use, saying merely "Someone from Google signed up on our site. Perhaps you should, too." It is not clear at all to me that someone on your social networking site can meet lots of people from Google even if one person from Google signed up on your site. And, what a subscriber can do to "meet" another subscriber depends on what is meant by "meet." You must be very clear Google does not endorse your site when you do this or you are taking a risk. I think you are hoping to imply Google approves your site, when the opposite is likely true. Read 15 USC 1125 if such deception is your intent.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
Q: "Can we put a company's logo on our website if one of their employees signed up on our website?"
R: Not lawfully. That would be trademark infringement.
The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
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Are You Planning on Opening a New E-Commerce Website?
There is much you need to know as you begin your new business. I suggest you do not attempt to write your own legal policies. This is not where your training and background lie, and though you are probably as smart as an attorney, you do not have their experience.
Below is a checklist for legal issues I use for new e-commerce clients.
1. Business Model – Is your idea viable as a web based business?
2. Business entity - Are you going to be a C corp, a sub-S, an LLC or a sole proprietorship?
3. Terms of Service - This is your contract with your visitors and is the most important item for any e-commerce site. A little work here brings big dividends in the future.
5. FTC guidelines - The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidelines apply to e-commerce sites.
6. Domain Name issues? Is your name available. Can you create a Trademark?
7. Trademark - Do you have a brand name free from conflict? Should you start with just common law rights? Should you register the mark, and when?
8. Copyright - If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using?
9. Do you need a DMCA policy?
10. Web Site security issues?
11. Do you need and have an EIN? You can get that for free.
12. Do you need an arbitration clause?
13. Do you have employees? - If so you need written policies regarding their authority and use of the internet.
14. Do you know the difference between a "browser wrap" and a "click wrap" and which do you need?
15. Are you abiding by the Child's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)rules?
When I discuss this list with clients other issues arise. Finally, I always discuss with my clients their need for good accounting services. An accountant's advice as you start up can save you many dollars in tax that you might not save if you wait to speak to an accountant until your first tax return is due.
I hope this list will give you pause to think about those issues for which you might need to seek professional advice.
You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo offer a free phone consultation.
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.
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