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Simply put, I'm developing a 'social' app centered around similar interests in brands (specifically restaurants). The main function of the app has users add restaurants to a 'shareable favorites list' of sorts. I intend on generating profit through ads or possibly otherwise in the future

If I intend on generating profit from ad revenue, am I allowed to reference said brands/franchises? Does the answer change if I use a trademarked logo? If not, does it change if all entries of restuarants and logos are added to the database by users and not the app owner(s)?

Ex. If my app's feature allows users to access entries for McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's (which have respective locations and trademarked logos attached to them), will I get sued for making a profit off of that feature the app?

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You can say the name of a fast food place, just like you did in your question.

As for the trademark, it is up to them as to how it is used.

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  • Does responsibility change if the user is entering the info? If users are the ones which add restaurant 'listings' to the database, am I still legally responsible as the app owner if they posted a trademarked logo as the listing's associated photo?
    – Jonny
    Jun 3 '19 at 17:53
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    You aren't responsible, but you should try to police it some if you can.
    – Putvi
    Jun 3 '19 at 17:55
  • That's if they care at all.
    – Putvi
    Jun 3 '19 at 17:57
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Trademark

Here’s what you can do with another person’s trademark: use it to identify their business, goods or services.

Here’s what you can’t do: anything else.

Your proposed use seems OK.

Copyright

Almost all trademarks have copyright protection as well.

Here’s what you can do with someone else’s copyright: copy it if you have permission or it falls under the fair use/fair dealing exemption.

Here’s what you can’t do: copy it absent those situations.

Commentary and criticism are legitimate fair use/fair dealing.

However, your users may post things which are infringing and you need to be aware of and comply with the various ‘safe harbour’ provisions or you can be held liable for their breaches.

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