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I am a graphic designer hoping for some legal advice. A client of mine owns a small company that makes equipment repairs solely for a larger equipment manufacturer. My client’s company name also includes this manufacturer’s name in it. For example “Location (manufacturer) repairs”.

Currently my client’s logo includes the manufactures name, font, and an image of their equipment.

They are wondering if they are legally required to have the manufacturer’s logo or at least font as part of their personal company logo. Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated.

-Christine

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Thanks Scott! I appreciate your reply. Currently they use the manufacturers logo and image in their personal company logo because it is part of their name and refers to their sole client that they repair for. Do you think it would be up to this equipment manufacturer that they do business on whether they have to continue using their logo? –  Christine Dec 16 '13 at 18:44
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I would say yes. The manufacturer should approve the use to avoid legal issues. But again... I'm not a lawyer. –  Scott Dec 16 '13 at 19:35
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We can't answer this...this is a contractual/legal obligation between your client and the parent company they do repairs for. –  DA01 Dec 16 '13 at 21:23
    
Legal stuff aside, what if the other company changes their logo several times? Will they want to change their logo every time as well? What if they decide later to work with other manufacturers? Will they need to include all of those logos as well? –  Don Nickel Dec 17 '13 at 16:23

3 Answers 3

Legally required? I'm no lawyer, but I'd say they are legally restricted from using the manufacturer's logo in their own. It's just bad form to use some other companies logo anywhere as "part" of another logo. And I would think there are legal issues with it because "your" company is directly piggy-backing brand recognition from the work of the manufacturer. I know if I designed a logo and saw it in use as you describe, I would absolutely bring it to the attention of my client's legal team.

Most companies have their own, independent logo then indicate they are a licensed or authorized distributor of [manufacturer's logo] products.

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This is the sort of question that you need a lawyer for.

There is at least the possibility of a charge of "passing-off" — that is, that people seeing the repairers' logo will assume that it's a local subsidiary (if not actually part) of the manufacturer. Your repairer is deliberately associating himself with the manufacturer. A court would have to decide if there was an attempt to deceive. That could include considering the detriment experienced by a similar repairer who did not use the manufacturer's marks.

Your question asks whether the repairer is legally required to use the manufacturer's font/logo. We can't know that: that would be in a contract between the repairer and the manufacturer. If in fact you are asking whether they are legally barred from using it, we can't know that either: that would also be in a contract.

Without a contract at all, and there being no real relationship between the repairer and the manufacturer, it's more than likely that they should not be using the logo and implying such a relationship.

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NO! You cannot use any part of someone else's logo without explicit permission. One brand that does incorporate other Logo's is Red (http://www.red.org/en/)

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