Can I Use A Corporate Logo Or Trademark In My Film

Guest blog via Bruce Nahin

Several times in the past few weeks I have had meetings with student film makers and the topic of logos and trademarks in films always comes up.

I thought I’d do my best to explain what can and cannot be in a film. Understand that studio released films involve very conservative lawyers and they prefer no logos, posters etc. in the film even if legally permissible. So if you are going studio, the answer is simply NO logos, NO trademarked product.

In an indie film it is best to understand that the law allows the filming of product if used in the manner intended. That is, feel free to show your Bud can, your Cheetos or your famous named scarf. But the kicker is that if you use it in a way the manufacturer might deem it defamatory or disparaging, you can get sued and many festivals, being aware of this will not let you enter or be on their compendium dvd’s if you use logos, product etc. So be careful…

C L E A R     E V E R Y T H I N G!!!!

Some Examples:

– Budweiser rarely has its commercials with people drinking etc so using their product during beer pong is probably a no no.

– How about a woman wearing a famous branded scarf then a thief grabs her and tries to choke her with the scarf..Maybe the product is used by an unsavory guy, say Charles Manson even if used as intended?

All these usages may be legally permissible under trademark law but will invariable cause legal problems for you and the distributor they may not accept delivery of the film.



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