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Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

Can you use another company’s logo on your blog post?

August 21, 2007

Google brings us a good lesson on the right to use corporate logos in your blog posts.

Google sent out a cease and desist letter to a guy who used Google’s logo on a website that informed people how to get their business listed on the search engines. Techdirt, which blogged on this incident, rightfully labeled Google’s trademark claim as totally bogus.

While it is true that you need to protect your trademark or risk losing it, it’s ridiculous to think that this is a case where the trademark is being infringed or needs to be ‘protected.’ Google’s complaint is that this somehow might confuse people into believing the site was associated with Google and lessens Google’s ability to make money. If we pull out the ever popular moron in a hurry test, we find that Google’s claims don’t stand up. No moron in a hurry is going to think the site is officially associated with Google. As for hurting Google’s ability to make money, this is a site that will get more people to use Google — which is Google’s exact defense when newspapers flip out about Google linking to them.

As a blogger, you’ve got the right to use logos under the Fair Use Doctrine. The same protection that comes with using portions of others’ content for critique and commentary, whether it be a blurb from the Wall Street Journal or a block quote from another blog, applies equally to using corporate logos.

From Boston Tech and IP Lawyer Erik Heels, far more of an authority on fair use than I:

If you are writing and commenting about a company, product, or famous person, then it’s a no-brainer that it’s fair use to use the company’s logo, product image, or headshot in your blog post.

Look at business periodicals such as BusinessWeeek. Look at Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch. Corporate logos are regularly used when writing about a company. May be why those publications always look pretty sharp.

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