How would I know if I am violating a trademark law? 6 Answers as of April 01, 2014

They have a trademark on this company name. The company takes photos of New England and sells them. I run an art blog and on my website. I have a page with the heading "Share Your New England Photography" where I am asking people to send in photos they have taken with New England subject matter to be displayed in a slide show. This is not a display that is for sale or anything just slide show on our site. The company feels I am violating their trademark?

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Microtechnology Law & Analysis | Daniel Flamm
Generally, a photograph may be protectable by copyright, but photographs are not what trademark law protects. Perhaps it is the heading? If so, you might reply that your heading is merely descriptive. It sounds as the opposing company may merely be trying to intimidate you. If they are accusing you of violating their intellectual property rights, they need to be specific (e.g. identify the trademark you purportedly violate and the specific subject matter that is being accused). Also, that your site is not involved in commerce may be pertinent. If this actually concerns a trademark.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/31/2014
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
Sounds like a stretch to me.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 4/1/2014
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
The first thing to investigate is to determine if the company's trademark is a valid trademark, if not they have no case against you. The second thing to investigate is to determine if your use qualifies as "nominative use" which is an affirmative defense to trademark infringement. However, both issues are above the paygrade of ordinary individuals and you should let an attorney review the case.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/31/2014
Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
Without knowing the trademark and what you are showing on your web site the answer is difficult. Ultimately a court would determine if you are in violation of using their trademark. If someone sends you an image with a trademark and you post the image on your website without permission of the company you could be in violation. Your best option is to locate the mark or images that they say are in violation and remove them immediately.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/31/2014
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
You don't say what the trademark of the company is or whether it's registered locally or federally. However, neither "New England Photography" or "Share Your New England Photography" would be accepted for trademark registration federally in most cases. Generally, if the company hasn't registered what it's claiming as a trademark, it can't prevent others from using the same words.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 3/31/2014
    Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
    This is another example of a trademark owner thinking that they can stop all uses of their mark - even non-commercial uses. The trademark does exist - Federal Reg. No. 4477113 was issued this year for the mark - NEW ENGLAND PHOTOGRAPHY - for "stock photography services ..." The words of the trademark are also descriptive English words describing a photographs about New England - which the public is free to use. However - why get into a legal fight over this? Change your blog and website to "Share Your Photographs of New England" . Check GOOGLE for other examples of this type of TM abuse - FRIENDLY'S had a lot of bad press when they objected to a restaurant that said that it was a "Family Friendly" restaurant. A whole town had all businesses claiming to be "Family Friendly".
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/31/2014
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