I would like to use the name and logo of a small airline that filed bankruptcy and went out of business about 35 years ago. I won't be making any money off this. It's strictly for a personal web page. I haven't been able to find anything showing this logo and name is still "owned" by anyone, but I don't want to use it if doing so might result in problems. I used TESS to search for the company name and got no results. I am unable to find any evidence that the company was acquired by another business. Are there other places I should check or am I concerned over nothing?

  • You should probably consult an intellectual property lawyer with regard to the specific company. All we can do here is discuss generally when trademark protection might lapse.
    – phoog
    Nov 2 '19 at 19:34
  • Ok, thank you very much! Nov 2 '19 at 19:35

For a liquidated company, the assets (including IP) become the property of the liquidator in trust for the creditors. The liquidator will try to liquidate (i.e. convert to cash) those assets by selling them. If they sold the logo, it belongs to whoever bought it. If they didn’t sell the logo (most likely) it belongs to all the creditors who did not have their debts paid in proportion to the amount of their unpaid debt. It will not be easy to determine who they are or if they know they own it. Further, over 35 years its likely that many of these initial owners will have been would up or died meaning ownership will have transferred and become even more diluted.

Trademark will have lapsed if the logo has not been used or renewed. Even if it has been renewed, if it has not been used it is a “zombie” trade mark and, if this can be demonstrated will not prevent other people trademarking it.

However, copyright in the logo does not lapse. Any use you make of the logo must be licences or fair use/dealing.

  • Great information! Thank you very much. Nov 2 '19 at 23:24

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