sourcing licenses for trademarked material


TPF Noob!
Dec 14, 2011
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I've been contacted by a car club who's interested in having me photograph their cars & design some signs for them to display during shows. Looking into the overhead costs of designing these to see if it'll be worthwhile to take on, and I'm having trouble finding where to buy licenses to use the various car logos & badges on their signs. I don't want to sell a design with trademarked logos I don't own, that's a recipe for disaster...but I can't find a stock house that has decent logos for all the major car companies. Anybody know of a resource?
You will need to contact the legal department of each company. Stock houses cannot license trademarks.

Logo's cannot be copyrighted.
This is potentially a VERY expensive under-taking. When talking with the companies that own the logos, make sure you explain clearly what the intent is. Some companies (Ford at least) are quite obliging with the use of CERTAIN trade-marks/logos for CERTAIN types of car clubs.
Oy, sounds like a headache. I know there was some controversy a couple years back when VW started prosecuting everybody who showed pictures of their microbus because the VW logo is so big and recognizable on the nose.

If I design the signs with just a text treatment saying the make & model of the car instead of using the actual logo, is that kosher? I know some of the clients will push back looking for actual emblems but I'm not willing to get sued on their behalf...
There should be nothing wrong with using name, make etc. It can't hurt to send them an e-mail and ask. I would say that there's a 90% chance it will be ignored. A 9.9% chance that they will respond, but tell you to take a hike, and a 0.01% chance that they will aprove it. You could also explain to them what the ramifications are, and have them go after the permission on your behalf.
Just don't use those Pine tree air fresheners in the design..Those F***ers are serious
Most marketing deptartments have the vector logo and release on hand for requests. There may be no charge for car clubs, there might be a huge fee. It depends. I had a similar thing happen when a production company wanted to use the MTV Real World logo on some totebags for a giveaway during a wrap party. Even though they worked on the show in New Orleans I still needed a release from MTV before they could have the bags. Unless you are going global with some freak campaign, there should be no problem getting the form and vector art you need.
Just don't use those Pine tree air fresheners in the design..Those F***ers are serious
S'trewth! I know someone that works for them, and have heard quite a few stories about how agressive their legal department is. They go after EVERYONE!

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