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Old July 23rd, 2007, 03:10 AM   #1
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Using "Coca Cola" logo in documentary...

I'm currently producing a documentary about an event in the 70''s and have some contemporaneous photos, including one in which someone is drinking coke from a can and the Coca Cola logo is clearly visible.
Firstly, do I need to get permission from Coca Cola to show this photo
Secondly, on a practical basis, is it even worth me bothering trying to get permission from a behemoth of a company like this given likely issues about finding the correct person to deal with and licensing fees for what is a very low-budget production.

Thanks
Greg
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 10:19 AM   #2
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I know I have seen the coke logo being used all the time, even in Pepsi commercials where they make fun of Coke, and I'm almost positive Coke didn't hand out permission for those ones. I've seen the documentary 'The Corporation' where they show hundreds of different logos in a bad light explaining how much they had to pay for corruption charges.

Still I don't know the legal implications on this, but my guess would be that they would not bother to sue you over something so small, especially if the way you display their logo is not in a bad way.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 10:40 AM   #3
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Greg
Untill and unless Paul Tauger, the IP attorney who frequents our forum weighs in, I'll ask these questions.

What is the nature and subject matter of your documentary? Is Coca Cola relevant to the material?

And finally to answer your last question, "NO". It's probably not worth the effort. Coke and Disney are probably to two biggest and most aggressive defenders of trademark issues.

Is there some reason you can't 'greek out' the logo by blurring it?

"So you gotta ask yourself punk, do ya feel lucky? Well... DO YA?" - with apologies to Dirty Harry.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 06:16 PM   #4
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Thanks Richard, Justin. This relates to still photos from the movie set of an old film. One of the crew is holding a coke with the logo and name clearly in view. I might just press ahead and use it, with a note in the credits that "All trademarks displayed in my movie belong to their respective owners". It just seems looney to me to have to blur out a coke logo, given that it's so ubiquitous - next thing you know we'll need to start blurring out the hood logo on Fords.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 06:17 PM   #5
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Sounds like it's pretty incidental, as long as your comfortable with your level of exposure, go for it.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 07:50 PM   #6
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If you get sued would you mind updating your post? I'm thinking of doing something similar.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 09:33 PM   #7
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If you get sued would you mind updating your post? I'm thinking of doing something similar.
I would hope they would issue a C&D before actually suing me. My guess is that this will get resolved one way or another by the time I acquire E&O for the project.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 09:58 PM   #8
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Maybe if you portay them in a favorable, nostalgic light you could ask for a placement fee.
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Old July 24th, 2007, 02:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Quinn View Post
I'm currently producing a documentary about an event in the 70''s and have some contemporaneous photos, including one in which someone is drinking coke from a can and the Coca Cola logo is clearly visible.
Firstly, do I need to get permission from Coca Cola to show this photo
Secondly, on a practical basis, is it even worth me bothering trying to get permission from a behemoth of a company like this given likely issues about finding the correct person to deal with and licensing fees for what is a very low-budget production.

Thanks
Greg
I can only respond to the legal question. Whether you can use the Coca Cola logo depends on two things: if your use will result in a likelihood that consumers will think that Coke is either the source, sponsor or endorser of your documentary, or, if your use of the logo diminishes the source-identifying character of the trademark, or tarnishes the trademark, than you cannot. These kinds of determinations should only be made by a lawyer, and are highly fact-specific, i.e. without seeing your documentary and knowing where it will be shown, it's impossible to say.
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Old July 24th, 2007, 02:29 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Greg Quinn View Post
I would hope they would issue a C&D before actually suing me. My guess is that this will get resolved one way or another by the time I acquire E&O for the project.
A trademark owner doesn't have to send a C&D and there are many instances in which it wouldn't. For example, if the mark owner thinks that your use tarnishes the mark, the mark owner will simply proceed to litigation and obtain a Temporary Restraining Order.
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Old July 24th, 2007, 02:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Richard Alvarez View Post
Sounds like it's pretty incidental, as long as your comfortable with your level of exposure, go for it.
First, this is a trademark issue, not a copyright issue. There is no "incidental reproduction" doctrine for trademark. Second, the doctrine as applied to copyright is not, in the least, settled law and shouldn't be relied upon.
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Old July 24th, 2007, 02:35 PM   #12
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You're right Paul, my explanaition should have had a 'snark' attached.
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Old July 24th, 2007, 02:50 PM   #13
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You're right Paul, my explanaition should have had a 'snark' attached.
That's what we need -- more snarks. ;)
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Old July 25th, 2007, 02:31 AM   #14
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Paul, thanks for your comments.
Greg
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Old July 30th, 2007, 04:40 PM   #15
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Forgive the ignorance....

Snark?

it won't bite me when I goto the beach will it?
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