EDIT: the suggested duplicate: a) Refers to the UK. b) Only addresses one issue I mentioned. c) Perhaps wrong/misleading (at least in the US) - From the USPTO site: "To support a trademark infringement claim in court, a plaintiff must prove that ... and that the defendant's mark is likely to cause confusion in the minds of consumers about the source or sponsorship of the goods or services offered under the parties' marks." Additionally, as far as I know, a TM is only valid for its specific use - See USPTO: "Your trademark registration will only apply to those goods and/or services with which you claim that you are using, or intend to use, your applied-for mark. " while in my question (see below) the business using the photo is not using the name or logo for the same use as the TM holder. (This is besides my point above, that there is no implied source/endorsement from/by the TM holder.)

I'm not referring to simply creating a copy such as taking a picture of someone's painting and displaying it in an art gallery. I'll try providing examples to explain myself.

Let's say I'm creating a website for a car accessories' store and I want to use, as a background image, a photo I took of a sports car. The car manufacturer might have several types of intellectual property laws protecting the car, for example:

  • The company's name and logo appear on the car and are protected by a registered trademark.
  • The car has a design patent on a pattern on the car.
  • The whole car is copyrighted as a work of art.

Or a case where the copyright issue is more apparent; A website for a store that sells television sets, and I want to use a photo (again, that I took) of a television set showing a cartoon featuring a famous animated round-eared mouse.

To make it clear - the company that the website is for would not make any claim that they represent the subject's creator-company, nor that they are affiliated in any way with them. Other than, perhaps, that they sell items of that (subject's) company, if applicable.

So, can I use such photos?

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  • @BlueDogRanch Though addressing one point in my question, it is about the UK. Also, though I didn't want to suggest my opinion in the question so as to get the most impartial answers, I am actually a bit surprised about the gist of the top answer there. From what I've read about (admittedly, US TM law) a TM is given so that it is clear that its user is indeed that company (e.g. in that answer - so that a consumer knows that when they buy an iPad - it is indeed made by Apple). 1/2 – ispiro Jul 9 at 21:09
  • @BlueDogRanch 2/2 But in my question, the logo on the car in the photo does not mean that the store is by that company. Additionally, even if the store would call itself by the car company's name, it wouldn't be a clear cut violation since TMs are given (again, in the US) per field. So a company could, as far as I know, sell shoes under the name of a computer manufacturer. – ispiro Jul 9 at 21:09

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