Does my Flickr photo infringe on a trademark? Do I have to remove it?
September 16, 2008 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Does my Flickr photo infringe on a trademark? Do I have to remove it?

Here is the photo I took of a sign in the cafeteria where I work. It's goofy and funny, and my friends felt the same way about it.

The most recent comment from effectivegrantsolutions states:
This is a registered trademark. You must remove the photo and comments at once or face prosecution. Your page will be checked within 48 hours to insure removal or you will be prosecuted.
Am I in the wrong? Is this a weird hoax? I searched for "effective grant solutions" but literally nothing shows up for that phrase (when put in quotes).

What do you think would happen if I merely restricted that photo to my Flickr contacts?
posted by bryanjbusch to Law & Government (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's a public thing; you can take a picture of it and display it if you like. You're not using it for profit or to advertise anything, so don't worry about it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 5:44 AM on September 16, 2008


IANAL, but I'd agree with Dee Xtrovert. It's a photo taken by a private citizen, not someone making a buck off of the photo. If it was out in a public place (clearly it was) and you're not making any money off of it, you're fine.
posted by twiki at 5:45 AM on September 16, 2008


"Am I in the wrong?"

No. A photo of a trademark doesn't infringe on it.

"Is this a weird hoax?"

Maybe. It might also be written in sincerity, but that doesn't make it any less incorrect or crazyheaded. Do you seriously think a cafeteria is going to sue you for taking a picture of their sign?

"What do you think would happen if I merely restricted that photo to my Flickr contacts?"

You'd be letting random people on the internet push you around for no reason. Just remove the comment and ignore the belligerent, clueless idiot. There are a lot of them out there, and you don't need to spend time and energy on them.
posted by majick at 5:50 AM on September 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's also worth mentioning that the comment claims that it is registered trademark but the USPTO hasn't heard of them, at least as far as my searching skills could find.

(It's worth mentioning, for the sake of completeness, that registration is not required, in the US, for trademark protection -- my point is merely that the comment claimed something that is untrue)
posted by toomuchpete at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2008


Just report the user to Flickr, delete the comment and carry on as normal.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:21 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a funny sign! I've mirrored the photo on my Tumblelog.
posted by brownpau at 6:22 AM on September 16, 2008


To clarify - if someone had a genuine copyright claim, they should be going through Flickr, not leaving mini-nastygrams on your Flickr comments. Most likely it's just some eejit with nothing better to do.

'effectivegrantsolutions' as a text string only comes up in a couple of spammy-looking 'grant writing' googlejuice sites, and effectivegrantsolutions.com is linked to a placeholder GeoCities page covered in text-ads.

The whois information for effectivegrantsolutions has a name and PO Box on it - I won't post here, but it appears to be a private individual.

So, again, flag up the user to Flickr, delete the comment and ignore.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:27 AM on September 16, 2008


To further clarify - a trademark claim and a copyright claim are not the same thing.
posted by majick at 6:29 AM on September 16, 2008


Comment spammer.
posted by media_itoku at 6:41 AM on September 16, 2008


IANAL
a) it's free advertising for the cafe, so I doubt they would object
b) stock photo sites would reject it, but I understand that's not your intention
c) if you went to a local commercial street and took a picture, would all the signs and advertisements in that picture allow those companies to sue you, no

If you google 'photographers rights', you'll find some more information that should help. In particular there's a small PDF that frequently gets mentioned.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:43 AM on September 16, 2008


You can't be prosecuted for trademark infringement.
posted by unSane at 6:44 AM on September 16, 2008


FWIW, if there were actually anything about that image that did have a trademark, you'd see a clear (TM) on it. People don't keep them secret.
posted by mkultra at 7:05 AM on September 16, 2008


This is a scam.

Real lawyers send you take-down notices via registered mail; they don' t post comments first.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:05 AM on September 16, 2008


Thank you, everybody who Is Not a Lawyer.
posted by bryanjbusch at 7:20 AM on September 16, 2008


The company I work for uses Flickr to find photos of our products and restaurants all the time. I then shoot users a message asking if we post them on our website/Facebook group (With proper attribution!). I'd never even consider sending a take-down. It's baseless and it's free advertising.

I'm thinking someone has a clueless manager and was told to get you to take it down. I'd ignore it.
posted by GilloD at 7:29 AM on September 16, 2008


I reported the user, so Flickr is aware.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:42 AM on September 16, 2008


Off topic but what exactly is disturbing, terrifying or horrifying about the sign?
posted by JJ86 at 8:55 AM on September 16, 2008


If you say it fast enough, it might sound like 'Monkey Crap Cafe'.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:59 AM on September 16, 2008


For future reference, when reporting a comment or user like this, it is best to leave the comment in place and hit report abuse for that page (link at the bottom). Then they can see the comment that you are complaining about. It stops any 'he said, you said'. If it is a serious issue, I'd screengrab the page, too, in case the user deletes it before it gets to the end of Flickr's queue for attention.
posted by Brockles at 9:09 AM on September 16, 2008


Couple of things stand out to me.

1. I can't see any TM or R marks on the poster.
2. Leaving a note on Flickr is a strange way of 'requesting your assistance'.

If it does go further, then you have an argument that even if the logo is registered, which I doubt, the trademark holder has not taken reasonable efforts to protect their IP.
posted by dantodd at 2:33 PM on September 16, 2008


Just want to point out that this user made a grammatical error in his "legal notice". I'm not sure what his motivation is, but this is a hoax.
posted by qvtqht at 3:33 PM on September 16, 2008


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