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Is it legal without permission to place in website specifications & photos of (electronic) products & compare these specs

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it is also important to know is it allowed to place the photo of the product which is copied from the official website of such product? As well as is there any risk if by accident write incorrect specification?
Thanks.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. The answer is--maybe. It depends on how, where and why you intend to use the specifications. If the purpose is to engage in a review or analysis for the benefit of consumers concerning how products compare with each other, you can certaily describe and compare product specifications, and in so doing, you can quote from, and comment on, the product specifications. However, product specifications often contain original drawings and text, and they can be protected by copyright. Thus, if you plan to simply copy the product specifications word for word without comment, you might run into a problem. Likewise, photographs are protected by copyright, and you probably need permission of the copyright owner to use the photographs. No attorney can answer your question in any meaningful way without understanding in detail how you intend to use the specifications and photos---but there are indeed risks of violating copyrights in the photographs and product specifications. Also, you need to be concerned about whether your use of trademarks shown in the product specifications or photographs may constitute trademark infringement--certainly you cannot do anything which might confuse people into believing that your web-site is associated somehow with one or more these products or brand names.

    If you make a mistake in describing a product specification, you face the risk that someone could rely on the accuracy of the information that you provide for some purpose, and if that reliance leads to injury or harm of some kind, a claim could be filed against you for negligence. Further, if you incorrectly describe a product specification, the manufacturer could accuse you of mischaracterizing its product. Care should be taken to only include product specification information that is, to the best of your knowledge based on reasonable investigation, accurate.

    More generally. anyone who operates a web-based business faces many complex intellectual property and legal issues, and in my humble opinion you should work closely with IP counsel to develop a strong and defensible legal foundation for your business


  2. The answer is--maybe. It depends on how, where and why you intend to use the specifications. If the purpose is to engage in a review or analysis for the benefit of consumers concerning how products compare with each other, you can certaily describe and compare product specifications, and in so doing, you can quote from, and comment on, the product specifications. However, product specifications often contain original drawings and text, and they can be protected by copyright. Thus, if you plan to simply copy the product specifications word for word without comment, you might run into a problem. Likewise, photographs are protected by copyright, and you probably need permission of the copyright owner to use the photographs. No attorney can answer your question in any meaningful way without understanding in detail how you intend to use the specifications and photos---but there are indeed risks of violating copyrights in the photographs and product specifications. Also, you need to be concerned about whether your use of trademarks shown in the product specifications or photographs may constitute trademark infringement--certainly you cannot do anything which might confuse people into believing that your web-site is associated somehow with one or more these products or brand names.

    If you make a mistake in describing a product specification, you face the risk that someone could rely on the accuracy of the information that you provide for some purpose, and if that reliance leads to injury or harm of some kind, a claim could be filed against you for negligence. Further, if you incorrectly describe a product specification, the manufacturer could accuse you of mischaracterizing its product. Care should be taken to only include product specification information that is, to the best of your knowledge based on reasonable investigation, accurate.

    More generally. anyone who operates a web-based business faces many complex intellectual property and legal issues, and in my humble opinion you should work closely with IP counsel to develop a strong and defensible legal foundation for your business


  3. Agreed, the purpose of the use is of great importance here. If you are doing this in order to review the products, or to facilitate a critical discussion of them, the answer is "maybe." There was a fairly in-depth discussion on this issue a few days on Avvo, at this URL: http://bit.ly/jY84GM. If that discussion doesn't pertain to you, perhaps supplement your question with more information, in order to help attorneys who would like to answer it. Good luck!

    This answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on in place of a consultation with an attorney. No attorney-client, contractual, or fiduciary relationship has been formed as a result of this post or anyone's use of it. The only manner in which an attorney-client relationship can be formed with Charles Colman Law, PLLC, is via a countersigned letter of engagement on CCL letterhead. Charles Colman is only admitted to practice law in New York State, and before New York federal district courts. Although he endeavors to answer all Avvo questions knowledgeably, he cannot and does not provide any guarantees as to the thoroughness or accuracy of his responses.


  4. If you are doing a product comparison and include photographs of the product that you took which include -- for example -- the labeling, or copies of product inserts, as long as your comparison includes reference to the the products and the specifications, you almost certainly can use them under the "fair use" doctrine. Consumer Reports magazine does this all the time -- i.e., compare product claims to actual performance.

    It is also commonly the case with reviews of consumer products such as diet pills or other OTC products, where the discussion involves what the product says it includes (on the label) and the comparison is to independent laboratory results. While it is unclear what you are doing in the comparison, if it is akin to these uses, you should be okay.

    If there is any doubt as to whether your actual scenario differs in a way that might constitute infringement, go show an intellectual property lawyer what you intend to do and have him bless it prior to posting anything.


  5. Basically, yes. One is allowed to use another's product in comparison. Courts are loathe to prevent good 'ol competition. Just make sure your use of their wares are acknowledged as being their products and that you are ACCURATELY describing their products.

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