December 23

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More Famous Than Your Lawyers? Why Are You Letting Them Put Your Brand on Their Website Without Compensation?

Do your vendors advertise that they work with you?  How about vendors you haven’t worked with in over a years? Chances are it’s a much greater boon to them (which is, of course, why they want your logo on their website) than it is to you.

Your lawyers, accountants, advertising agencies and other vendors use your brand on their media and advertising to drum up business for themselves and odds are they haven’t gotten your permission, or if they did, they asked for an oral authorization and you don’t have terms in place for that use, let alone receive adequate compensation from them. Depending on the cache you’re brand is delivering, some expressed reduction in rates or billings is appropriate given that they’re trading on your good name.

This very issues was at the heart of a recently settled suit between Patron and one of its former advertising agencies.

Back in October, Patrón Spirits International AG brought suit against The Reindeer Group, Ltd., alleging, amongst many grievances, that the advertising company was using the beverage maker’s logo on the advertising company’s website “despite its unequivocal termination of Reindeer’s service.” The complaint alleged that requests to take down the logo went unanswered and finally Patron brought suit looking to stop the practice and disputing bills and the agencies’ failure to turn over a website. The gist: “Reindeer has used the highly valuable Patrón name and trademarks belonging to [Patrón] to market Reindeer’s own website without Patrón’s authorization.” The complaint even alleged a false advertising count against Reindeer for claiming Patrón was still a client. You can read the complaint here. The case was recently dismissed pursuant to settlement, creating a lesson for companies and their vendors to work this out in advance.

So, start the New Year off right. Ensure your engagement letter or contract contains the proper clauses discussing the use and authorization for display of your company name and brand; and see if you can’t negotiate a price for the use, don’t just give this away, you are way more famous than your lawyers.