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Types of Trademark Fair Use Examples

There are several types of trademark fair use examples. Nominative and descriptive uses fall under this category. Generally, you can use a registered trademark for its primary meaning unless you are suggesting association with the trademark owner. These uses should not depreciate the goodwill associated with the mark. For example, if a company sells a product called All Bran, you can use it for marketing purposes. In other cases, however, you can use a mark for another purpose.

Comparative advertising is a common example of nominative fair use. When a company promotes a similar brand, it can use the trademark of that competitor to illustrate the relationship between the products. For example, a coffee company might include a Starbucks logo and its comparable price on its advertising. In both of these instances, the logo and the price are acceptable as long as the company is not trying to deceive consumers. If you have used a trademark for other purposes, you may be infringing on its rights.

Descriptive fair use is another example. It allows a third party to use a trademark to describe a product without mentioning the trademark owner. This type of use is generally permissible if the use is descriptive and does not cause confusion. An auto repair shop advertising that it repairs Honda cars would be an example of nominative use. In contrast, a news station could use the AT&T mark in its advertisement for Verizon better coverage.

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