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Is there any copyright infringement on using formal names (Nike, McDonalds) in a PAID 3rd party news app?

Chicago, IL |

I have this idea for news app one would pay for, but I'm not sure if I'd be sued for using such brands, or famous people in articles, within the app. Just curious about what would happen.

I am teenager, who knows nothing regarding copyright laws of anything.
Thank you.

Attorney Answers 3


Such titles cannot be copr. Protected. But they can be and almost certainly are registered trademarks. Use them with care. It is fine to do news stories, as newspapers and TV do every day, and they charge money. So long as you keep it news and do not suggest you are affiliated with any of them or with some newspaper you will be ok.

I will attach something to read, a guide to fair us in the copr. arena. It is similar in trademarks.

Licensed in Maryland with offices in Maryland and Oregon. Information here is general, does not create a lawyer-client relationship, and is not a substitute for consulting with an experienced attorney on the specifics of your situation.

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You can you the trademarks of others if they are necessary to state a fact, I.e. there was a robbery at McDonald's. You cannot use the trademarks in any way which suggests an affiliation with the owner. Thus, yoi are fine as long as you are not creating a likelihood of confusion. Please understand that there are some companies that are hypersensitive about there marks and will threaten people who are using the marks properly - you know "the big game".

This is not legal advice. Even if it were, fee legal advice is worth what you pay for it. The facts of every case are different and should be addressed by a competent attorney who has all of the facts.

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It should not matter that the app is paid for, so long as the names are used only to identify the subjects of the articles and not to imply sponsorship or affiliation with the app itself. We call such use the "nominative fair use" of a name or trademark when it is used only to name the person, company or brand.

Illinois has a right of publicity statute that can come into play as well, but again not for ordinary news reporting. I covered the Right of Publicity in one of my firm's free 30-minute webinars, I'll put the link below.

This answer does not constitute legal advice, and by answering this question we have not entered into an attorney-client relationship.

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