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I know full well that rebranding goods for sale without an agreement with trademark owners is illegal. But what about goods I own? Can I for instance remove a logo from my car and put on a different one, assuming that I don't try to sell it to anyone and in general don't try to pass it for a different brand where it would matter? For instance, I'm still going to communicate the correct brand to the authorities, insurance companies, etc.

Are cars special w.r.t branding, or do the same rules apply to other goods as well, such as cellphones?

And if it's not allowed, which part exactly is illegal, removing the original logo or installing a different one? Car stickers which imitate logos seems to be allowed, e.g.

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    Not an answer as I don't know enough about trademark and/or copyright laws to give one, but from an E&W policing perspective there is no law or regulation preventing a re-badging in the circumstances described (ie no intent to commit fraud, insurance company fully informed etc)
    – Rick
    Sep 29, 2021 at 11:16
  • I've heard of people removing Infiniti badges on G35s? to put on the Nissan badge it would have as a Skyline, but I doubt anyone who did it to care about the legality of it.
    – pboss3010
    Sep 29, 2021 at 13:42
  • I swear its not a jeep! I completely built it myself, I even casted the moter, frame and body, honestly. My guess is you would have to be honest about what the parts are, so you couldn't deny it was a jeep, but you may get away with calling it something else. Defiatly depends on where you are at, the USA generally has stricter laws, more laws, and their laws are more defined on issues similar to this.
    – j D3V
    Sep 29, 2021 at 13:59
  • Good question. Personally, I don't like wearing clothes with big brands on them, so I generally buy the no-name stuff. But would I be allowed to remove a "Nike" logo?
    – PMF
    Sep 29, 2021 at 16:08

2 Answers 2

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One can certainly remove a trademark from an item that one owns, whether it be a car, cell phone, blender, or computer. Using some other firm's mark would not be trademark infringement if one did not try to sell the item. If the logo was complex enough to be protectable by copyright, copying it might be copyright infringement, but for such personal use it might fall under an exception to copyright, depending on the country. In any case a copyright infringement suit in such a case seems unlikely.

For a car, registration is generally required, and must accurately specify the make and model. The same is true for insurance coverage, a falsely stated make or model would be fraud. If one were to sell the "rebranded" item, one would have to make the situation clear to any potential buyer, otherwise this might be some form of fraud.

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The problem is three part:

Can you remove your old brand's trademark?

Certainly you can, and it is not illegal to have a Mercedes without the star. It's still a Mercedes after all.

Can you mount a different brand's trademark?

This is a little tricky: you can certainly mount it for personal preference, or as a tongue-in-cheek joke. However, you'd need to tell a prospective buyer what the car actually is - if you mount a Mercedes star on a Nissan, it is still a Nissan and not a Mercedes.

Can you put the new brand on the title to it?

Most certainly no. The car was assigned a VIN, which tells exactly what the car is and that can not be changed. If your VIN says that it is a Nissan Almera made in 2000, then it will always be a Nissan Almera made in 2000, and you can not alter the papers that belong to the car.

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    You don't address the OP's question about goods other than automobiles. Jan 25 at 21:41
  • The question is specific to cars.
    – Trish
    Jan 25 at 23:05
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    The question reads "Can I for instance remove a logo from my car ..." and later says: "Are cars special w.r.t branding, or do the same rules apply to other goods" Jan 25 at 23:30

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