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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  • Thanks for this, I actually needed to look this up today.

  • Argh Google and their lawsuits… can’t we all just get along?
    Keeping you guys busy though right? :)

  • I agree that using the logo design of another company in your post is fine, as long as it is relevant to the article. This was a case of Google making something out of nothing!

  • I agree that you can’t use Google logos to promote your website, but if it’s just an informative article, then why can’t we use it? It’s make no sense.

  • I taught junior high students with learning disabilities and helped them
    overcome their reading problems, but they still could not spell well.
    I have to admit that I am a culprit of a few of these.
    It’s funny that I didn’t realize until now that I was making a mistake!
    Thanks for the post. Here’s to a better-spelled 2012.

  • I was issued a C&D letter from a major insurance company regarding usage of their “trademark” logo on a review website that I have. Is that legitimate? Or am I protected by “Fair Use”? I simply wrote a review of their company.

  • Jon

    What is the law when it comes to a store selling a wholeseller/brand’s product? Are they allowed to display the wholeseller/brand’s logo with such a sentence saying we carry the following brands on their website? In this case it isn’t a blog.

  • William Mooney

    Thanks for answering this question I had.