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question about Friends (TV show) copyright

I am guessing the friend's logo is a trademark. can a busine mera8806/13/18
The logo design is probably trademarked. trollfeeder06/14/18
I'm sure it is, and even if it isn't there's still common la onehell06/14/18
mera88 (Jun 13, 2018 - 10:26 pm)

I am guessing the friend's logo is a trademark. can a business use the design of the friend's logo and insert their own design or is that an infringement?

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trollfeeder (Jun 14, 2018 - 7:58 am)

The logo design is probably trademarked.

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onehell (Jun 14, 2018 - 3:35 pm)

I'm sure it is, and even if it isn't there's still common law trademark.

However, the main element of trademark infringement is the “likelihood of confusion.” So, would this business' use of something similar to the Friends logo be reasonably likely to make consumers think there's some kind of actual association or endorsement between the show and whatever this business does? That's a very fact-specific inquiry.

For example, Warner Bros. entered into an agreement with a company called Eight O'Clock coffee to open up a cafe made to look like Central Perk in the show. Something like that definitely needed a license from WB, and indeed they got one. But if it was some completely unrelated business like a tire shop or something that just happens to have a logo reminiscent of the show? That could be a different story if actually litigated.

But of course, you can never guarantee you won't get a cease & desist letter or lawsuit, and litigation is time consuming and expensive. Sure, more likely you just get a C&D letter if and when WB notices and then change your logo to avoid the hassle, but you might have established an identity and brand under the logo by then so it would suck to change it.

So I usually err on the side of caution and just encourage people to come up with their own logo rather than ripping off someone else's design. It isn't hard, and frankly there are hordes of quasi-unemployed "graphic designers" whose time is probably cheaper than a lawyer's.

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