Todd Allen wrote:
You'll note that I stated earlier in this very
discussion that Nike
would be a likely exception we could make, since its logo has been
essential to its marketing strategy and is iconic...
"Exception", however, is the operative word here-that couldn't be said
of the vast majority of logos. The idea of providing narrow exceptions
is so that in a case such as Nike, we can use the logo-not so that in
every article about any corporation we can use the logo!
I think you've got it exactly backwards. *Every* trademark logo
is at least intended to be iconic, and a great many of them are.
As long as you use them properly (i.e. identify them as
trademarks), and as long as the company in question hasn't tried
to also copyright them, you absolutely don't need permission to
use them to refer to the companies or products they identify.
In fact, as long as you're not trying to defame the company (and,
again, as long as you identify the trademark correctly) I believe
companies love for you to use their trademark logos; it's one way
they want to be recognized. If there are exceptions, it's the
few companies who are for some perverse reason jealous of their
logos and actively try to stop people from using them. For most
trademarked logos (and again, for identification purposes, or
"Nominative use"), it's pretty much open season.
If the nightly news does a story about XYZ Corp., they probably
put XYZ Corp.'s logo on the screen behind the talking heads,
and they probably don't get XYZ Corp.'s permission. Ditto for
newspaper and newsmagazine stories. If you go to the bank to
order some new customized checks, if you look through the books
they have of all the cute icons you can put next to your name
on your checks, you'll also find pages of corporate logos,
which the check printers have all ready for you in case you're
a representative of the company. If you're in advertising or
marketing, and you design ads or flyers or distributor's
catalogs, you have books on your shelf full of stock logos for
all the companies whose goods you might ever advertise or sell,
and I doubt the publishers of those books got permission from
each of the thousands of companies whose logos they list.
(But I could be wrong on some of this.)
It's correct for us to be worried about reproducing copyrighted
images without permission. But the situation is very different
for trademarks, and I believe we absolutely shouldn't try to
artificially impose copyright rules onto trademarks. (Though
they're regulated in the U.S. by the same office, Copyright and
Trademark are almost completely different concepts.)