Feeds

Blogger warned to delete Avis logo

But is using a picture of a logo trademark infringement?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A US blogger who reported on a court ruling has been ordered by car rental firm Avis to remove an image of its logo from his blog posting to avoid charges of trademark abuse.

Eric Turkewitz is a lawyer who writes a personal injury blog. In a recent post he discussed a ruling on the constitutionality of car rental firm immunity from some kinds of negligence suits. He illustrated the story with pictures of the logos of leading firms Hertz and Avis, but was told by Avis's lawyers to take down the picture.

A comment on the blog from Fred Grumman, associate general counsel at Avis, said: "We have the greatest respect for your right to express your opinions on your blog, but that does not include the right to use Avis' trademark as you have done in this particular piece.

"Understandably, trademark law is not within your area of expertise. Therefore, we trust that this was done out of ignorance and not based on an intent to misuse our mark to the benefit of your personal injury practice. We ask that you remove it immediately and refrain from any similar use in the future."

Turkewitz said he is not convinced he has actually committed a trademark violation. "Was my use of the Avis logo last month a violation of its trademark?" he asked his readers in a post.

"The particular logo at issue was placed in my 17 September posting regarding a federal court decision. I thought that using the logos of Avis and Hertz was fair use in the context of the discussion."

Trademark expert Lee Curtis of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said the use was unlikely to be trademark infringement, because Turkewitz was not using the brand itself in the course of trade.

Curtis said it was possible that the use might represent infringement of the copyright in the image itself.

Even copyright law may not boost Avis's case, though, said Kim Walker, head of intellectual property at Pinsent Masons. Copyright law in the US has a concept of "fair use", which allows the use of copyrighted materials in some situations, including in news reporting.

"It is generally accepted that it is easier to show 'fair use' in the US than it is to show 'fair dealing' in the UK," said Walker.

If the case did arise in the UK Turkewitz would almost certainly have to remove the picture, since it is unlikely that it would pass the more rigorous UK test of 'fair dealing', said Walker.

"If it were to be fair dealing with the logo under UK law it would be fair dealing 'for the purpose of reporting current events'. In my view the use would not be 'fair' dealing, as I doubt it is in any way necessary to include the logo for the purposes of reporting the particular story," Walker said.

"Also, the fair dealing exemption requires there to be a sufficient acknowledgement of the author of the copyright work, which is not the case here, as I doubt the word 'Avis' on its own constitutes sufficient acknowledgement."

As Walker said, though, the US rule on 'fair use' is more generous to the user of copyrighted materials than UK law.

Turkewitz said in his blog that he feels the fair use defence is adequate. "Now I will concede I am not the world's greatest expert on trademark law, but it seemed perfectly fair to use in the context of major car rental companies lobbying for a law that was tossed out and is now headed to a federal appeals court. And I didn't see how my use of the logo would cause confusion in the marketplace since I don't rent or lease cars to anyone."

The logo is currently still in place on both the original story and the post about the controversy over its use.

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy
Even Moore's Law can't help the architects of statism now
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
New voting rules leave innocent Brits at risk of SPAM TSUNAMI
Read the paperwork very carefully - or fall victim to marketing shysters
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.