Can I use a company logo in a painting that I'm going to sell? How? 6 Answers as of April 30, 2015

I'm painting a picture that I am eventually going to try to sell. Can I include a company logo in my picture? What if it is similar but not the same?

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Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
Generally you would need to get approval from the company before you use their logo. This is especially true when you are selling your painting. While most companies will appreciate the free advertisement there are some that want to ensure the mark is being used with their approval. "similar" it depends upon how similar, the determination is with the owner of the logo. It also depends if the logo is on a vehicle parked at a movie theater, but if the picture is a large logo from a known company then a company might have a different opinion.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/30/2015
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
That can be tricky and the answer will depend on a bunch of details that you have not included. Plus you will want to explore variations that are safer and less safe. You should talk privately with an intellectual property attorney so that you can safely discuss your plans in confidence and explore the options you have.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 4/30/2015
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
The company might have a claim against you for false designation of origin, if you sell your painting with their name on it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/30/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
This is a complex issue. Andy Warhol made a fortune painting Campbell Soup cans and Campbell's didn't complain because it was great free publicity. Warhol didn't do anything to diminish the value of the company's product or logo. However, most companies probably aren't going to be so forgiving. Also, you'll have to be careful that you don't use the mark in any manner that might give consumers the idea that your painting comes from or is approved by the owner of the mark. I.E. you can't include the mark in order to increase the chances of selling the painting. Especially if the mark is owned by the Disney company or a sports franchise.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 4/30/2015
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
NO. The use of a company logo without permission from the owner would likely violate both trademark law and copyright law. Create a totally new version - think of an abstract version of the Fenway Citgo sign - colors and basic shapes might be okay to copy - but the art should be your own.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 4/30/2015
    Barton Barton & Plotkin
    Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
    This depends on how you use it and whether your use is protected under the fair use doctrine. These are complex matters and you need to hire a lawyer to review this for you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/30/2015
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