More companies have been including media outlets' logos under their site/printed marketing material as part of "As featured in" to provide more social proof.

Is it legal to include the logos without the companies' consent? (especially for printed material)


They could maybe get away with this as nominative fair use. Playboy v Welles is the go-to case on this where the ninth district held that nominative use is fair use when (quoting from wikipedia):

  1. The product or service can not be readily identified without using the trademark (i.e. trademark is descriptive of a person, place, or product attribute);

  2. Only so much of the mark may be used as is reasonably necessary for identification (e.g. the words may be reasonably used but not the specific font or logo); and

  3. The user does nothing to suggest sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder - which applies even if the nominative use is commercial.

They problem is that they are using the logo which might fail part two of this test. Maybe. Under Playboy they can definitely use the words, but using the logo may be pushing it. The only way we can know if the use is fair use is if they end up in court and a judge decides one way or another. Until then, they are relying on the trademark holder.

  • And indeed, media outlets are unlikely to challenge those who claim "as featured on," because that just increases traffic, circulation, and/or profile. Using the media outlet's trademark is a favor to the media outlet.
    – phoog
    Dec 6 '15 at 5:43

Assuming the logos are trade marks, the purpose of a trade mark is to distinguish that businesses goods or services from another businesses.

Providing that the use of the trade mark is such that a reasonable person would not be confused about that and providing further that there is no confusion that the owner of the trade mark is not endorsing what is said if they are not then such use is OK.

With the specific situation that you describe there is certainly the possibility that "As featured in" might be confused with "recommended by" in the mind of a reasonable person. This would depend on the specific facts of the case.

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