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I presume that copyright does not restrict me from referring to, e.g., Acme Corp. publicly. I also presume that if I write an online article about Acme, I am free to include links to their online material without needing permission, just as I free to include public phone numbers and addresses for them, etc.

But what if I want to include a link to an Acme website, using their own logo?

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First, copyright only protects literary and artistic works - the name of a company (or anything else) is neither - it is a fact and facts are not subject to copyright. Similarly, URLs, street addresses and phone numbers are all facts. In addition, even if these weren't facts; they lack the required threshold of creativity to qualify for copyright protection.

A logo is an artistic work and does get copyright protection.

I think you are confusing the IP concepts of copyright and trade mark.

A trade mark is a name, symbol, colour etc. which someone uses to identify their goods and services - think "brand" if you will. You are not allowed to use a trade mark if your use would create confusion that your goods and services are associated with or endorsed by the trade mark owner or in a way that is defamatory to the trade mark owner. You can use a trade mark to identify the owner of the trade mark or their goods and services.

Your proposed use appears to be a fair use/fair dealing for copyright and so long as your links are not defamatory the trade mark usage is fine.

  • So you mean I've confused ® with © ? – goldilocks Jan 20 '16 at 21:47
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    Sort of, however, ® is not required for something to be a trade mark, a trade mark is a trade mark even if not registered. Neither is © required to make something copyright - an artistic or literary work is copyright at the moment of creation. – Dale M Jan 20 '16 at 21:49

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