Use of Landmark Images in Advertising

By on September 19, 2019

Executive Summary of an article written by
Purvi Patel Albers and Tiffany Ferris, Haynes and Boone

Though landmark images are valuable visual assets in advertising campaigns, their use can raise serious legal concerns. They are often protectable under intellectual property laws, and unauthorized commercial use could rise to the level of infringement. One issue that could arise when using landmark images in advertising is potential trademark infringement. It may be tempting to think that using a landmark’s image in advertising couldn’t constitute infringement, and the leading U.S. case on this point, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, Inc. v. Gentile Productions, makes it seem so. However, the facts of that case do not align with the facts that would be present in an action against advertising using a landmark’s image. Copyright problems can also exist if, for example, the building has a mural or sculptural element that is artistic.

Savvy marketers will adhere to the following best practices to mitigate and manage risks involved with a landmark campaign. Conduct a clearance process to provide an idea of whether someone could successfully enforce rights in a building image against you, the likelihood that someone would attempt to enforce, and a general idea of potential consequences. Compare your risk tolerance to the risks of using the landmark. Mitigate risks if necessary by obtaining a license and/or revising the image as a skyline.

With proper planning and mitigation strategies, using landmark images in advertising and promotional campaigns can be a valuable tool to connect with consumers.

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