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If I have an e-commerce store listing products from several manufacturers, can I use those manufacturers' logos on the website?

Columbia, SC |

If I have an e-commerce store, listing products from several
manufacturers, can I use those manufacturers' logos on the website?

OR can those manufacturers take action against me / my store if I don't have
some sort of written approval?

Screenshot of homepage with logos:
http://goo.gl/gwaI6

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3

Posted

The manufacturer can take action against you -- specifically, a trademark infringement lawsuit. Many manufacturers, however, have a "trademark use policy" [sometimes on their websites, sometimes sent to their distributors] that informs re-sellers how the manufacturer's name and trademark may lawfully be used. For each manufacturer try to track down its policy. If you find it, follow it. If you don't find it, call or email the manufacturer and ask whether it has one. If it does, get it and follow it. If it doesn't, ask to speak to their marketing or legal department to discuss your potential use of their logo. That last step is best done, of course, by a trademark attorney. Good luck.

The above 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.

Asker

Posted

Makes sense, Thanks!

Posted

Use of the logos might be considered fair use under trademark law (so no permission or license would be required), but the devil is in the details. Manufacturers also are often very protective of their logos and any perceived misuse of their brand or false association (especially if they have an authorized dealer network). Some manufacturers publicize what each considers to be acceptable and unacceptable uses of their logos and marks. Context is often important. In general, the more prominent the use, the more likely the manufacturer will object without prior approval. A trademark attorney can help give you guidance, but the manufacturer (or a judge or jury) ultimately may not agree whether a given use is fair use or an infringement.

This answer is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as specific legal advice regarding your question. The answer could be different if all of the facts were known. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

Posted

I agree with both my colleagues. And would add one caveat to the "Fair Use" discussion. Fair Use is a defense to infringement, which means you will be sued before you can ever assert it. It is usually always cheaper to seek a license from the trademark owner.

Asker

Posted

Good point, so Fair Use never makes a good 'excuse'.

Maxwell Seaton Felsheim

Maxwell Seaton Felsheim

Posted

Fair Use can make a good defense. However, it is just that a defense. To prove that fair use applies to your situation you would first have to be sued and assert that defense. It is usually advisable to contact the rights holder and get a license/permission rather than waiting for them to sue you and assert your fair use defense. Many times when seeking a license you can cite fair use to lower the cost of the license and/or get a no cost license.

Asker

Posted

ok, thanks for further explanation!

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