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Ask Stephanie: What Trademark Issues Apply to Livestock Photographers?

The U.S. Trademark office states that a trademark is “a word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, use or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the good/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.” Trademarks may either be on a mark or image. In order for something to be “trademarked” it must be unique and distinctive. Generally, a photograph would not be trademarked, it would be more proper to copyright the image; however, the business name or logo may be eligible for a mark.

An issue may arise if a photographer captures an image of a trademarked item. Trademarks are infringed if there is a ““likelihood of confusion” as to the source, affiliation, or sponsorship of a good or service”. An example would be if a photographer pictured the logo of a sports team. This might possibly be trademark infringement if the image would likely cause the public to believe the photo was taken by the sports team when in fact it was taken by another photographer. See Photo Attorney, Trademarks in Photographs, (last visited February 29, 2020). Similarly, this might occur if a photographer pictured a ranch sign containing a logo or slogan that was trademarked and then the photographer sold or shared this image without the permission of the ranch trademark owner.

"This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before relying on the information in this blog."

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