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On a webpage we would like to have a background image demonstrating our product on different devices. The current images we have contain an Intel logo and an iPad (logo not visible but clearly an iPad). Is it OK to use these images without permission?

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    This is usually specific to each product - there's no general rule. You should track down their trademark guidance and other legal pages to see what they consider to be acceptable use of their logos and products, or contact them directly if you're not sure. – animuson Sep 16 '15 at 3:15
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Generally speaking, you must be Licensed, or enter a written agreement, in order to use any logos from any company, especially any time the reference is referenced commercially. There are exceptions to the rule, and some are more lenient than others, but you should always check before showing any company's trademarks or brand icons.

For example, Intel® allows third parties to refer to them by name, but displaying a logo requires a license or written permission, per their Trademarks and Brands guideline.

You'll find that most companies are probably willing to overlook violations of Licensing as long as the product is placed in a favorable light, since's that's basically free advertising, but you'll want to take the extra few moments and simply call them and ask. A ten minute call could save you tons in legal fees and/or fines.

From what I've seen, most companies will allow use of their company name for most commercial and non-commercial uses, but reserve some logos only for licensed partners, and others still only for themselves. They will also generally specify appearance guidelines, such as rendering ® and ™ only the first time on each page of printed material, as well as a specific guideline for sentences and phrases that the name may or may not appear in.

They also usually specify that such phrases may not imply that the company is a partner or representative of the company, etc. You can see Intel's Trademark Symbols and Acknowledgements page for an example of what you'd expect to be required to do. This page also gives some example sentences of acceptable and unacceptable phrases. For example:

Correct Usage

Look for PCs with Intel® Core™ processors.

Incorrect Usage

Look for PCs with Intel® Core.

Mostly, they're concerned about making sure ™ is used correctly, as well as specifying that they make processors, not entire systems. You'll want to try and stay on the good side of their legal department, and represent fairly.

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The Trade Marks Act 1994 provides

  1. Rights conferred by registered trade mark.

    (1) The proprietor of a registered trade mark has exclusive rights in the trade mark which are infringed by use of the trade mark in the United Kingdom without his consent.

    The acts amounting to infringement, if done without the consent of the proprietor, are specified in section 10.

Section 10 provides

  (5) A person who applies a registered trade mark to material intended to be used for labelling or packaging goods, as a business paper, or for advertising goods or services, shall be treated as a party to any use of the material which infringes the registered trade mark if when he applied the mark he knew or had reason to believe that the application of the mark was not duly authorised by the proprietor or a licensee.

It could be argued that you have applied the registered mark in your photograph which is intended to advertise goods or services. And you know or have reason to believe that the "application" of the mark was not duly authorised by the proprietor or a licensee, because you have not sought that authorisation.

A trademark such as Intel's "Intel Inside" text swoosh will almost certainly be registered ("Intel Inside" is); even the company name may be (Intel's is). You will need to ascertain whether the shape and appearance of a particular product is a registered trademark. It may be.

The protections the Act provides to the trade mark holder are to counter misrepresentation, either by counterfeiting or otherwise; and to counter derogatory use of their mark. They wouldn't want their mark to appear on goods which weren't theirs, nor in circumstances which show their product in a bad light.

If your use of the mark is neutral, or even beneficial, to its proprietor, get your use authorised. There will be a few hoops to jump through, I expect, which may be as easy as a small caption. This saves you from arguing about what an "application" is, and could improve relations between you and the mark's proprietor. Perhaps they will offer you a better machine to photograph!

In every case, it's better to ask; as Phyrfox has said in his answer, it's free advertising for the proprietor of the mark and not much effort for you. There may be a licensing cost, but for the incidental appearance in a photograph [which is explicitly legislated not to infringe copyright], it's not likely to be enormous. If it is enormous, then it's highly likely that the proprietor jealously guards all appearances of the mark and would pursue you if you had used it without asking.

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What is the worse likely outcome?

I would not expect any more than a letter from their legal department asking you to stop doing it. (I rather expect you will never get such a letter.)

You are not making any real investment that you will lose if you get such a letter.

If you ask you to change the photo later it does not cost you any more then changing it now.

I can’t see how they can claim you have coursed them any damage. Therefore personally I would not be concerned. Sometimes we have to get on with life and not ask about the law….

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    Except that the entire purpose of this site is to ask about law, and this question specifically asks for legal information, not practical advice. – feetwet Sep 16 '15 at 21:51
  • @feetwet, considering what the outcome is of ignoring the law, is legal information. – Ian Ringrose Sep 17 '15 at 8:33
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    @Ian, you've explicitly asked and answered a different question as an answer to this one. The title is What are the laws on showing another company's logo in commercial photos? ... Is it okay to use these images without permission?, and you're asking and answering the question What is the worse [sic] likely outcome [of using images without permission]? You are welcome to ask and answer a new question if you wish, but this is at best a poor answer to the question, and at worst, not an answer to it at all. – jimsug Sep 17 '15 at 11:55

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