Using Facebook's marks for your business
By Foong Cheng Leong May 28, 2013
- To use a trademark (like a logo) legally, one must seek permission from the proprietor of the trademark
- You can use Facebook’s trademarks without asking for express permission provided you satisfy its brand guidelines
Bread & Kaya by Foong Cheng Leong
UNKNOWN to many people, using someone's trademark, in particular a logo, can potentially amount to trademark infringement, passing off, and copyright infringement. To use it legally, one must seek permission from the proprietor of the trademark.
History has indicated that most brand owners jealously guard their trademarks from being used even if the use would benefit them in a way.
But for Facebook, you can use its trademarks without asking for express permission provided that you satisfy its brand guidelines.
In April 2013, Facebook updated its Facebook Brand Resources page with a specific website, Facebookbrand.com. The website has specific guidelines about how to use its logos and screenshots in print, film, broadcast and online, and how to treat the social network’s brand.
The website sets out a list of Dos and Don’ts on the website. Under the Don’ts section, you cannot:
- Use the Facebook brand in a way that implies partnership, sponsorship or endorsement
- Combine any part of the Facebook brand with your name, marks or generic terms\
- Use trademarks, names, domain names, logos or other content that imitates or could be confused with Facebook
- Present Facebook in a way that makes it the most distinctive or prominent feature of what you’re creating
- Use any icons, images or trademarks to represent Facebook other than what is found on its resource centre
- Assert rights over the Facebook brand whether by trademark registration, domain name registration or anything else
- Feature Facebook on materials associated with pornography, illegal activities, or other materials that violate the Facebook Terms
- Modify Facebook brand assets in any way, such as by changing the design or colour
- Use Facebook's trade marks on merchandise or other products such as clothing, hats or mugs. In certain circumstances you can use the ‟f” logo on product packaging, but you need to follow the guidelines of use.
There is also a FAQ for advertisers, developers, publishers, filmmakers or anyone who intends to use the company’s name, logos or images in their work.
The website sets out five types of Facebook logos and badges. Each logo or badge comes with general and specific rules. For example, you can use the 'f' logo to refer to you, only use the ‘f’ logo to refer to your presence on Facebook, such as your Page, timeline, group, app or event, but you cannot modify the ‘f’ logo in any way, such as by changing the design or colour.
If you wish to use it for film or broadcast, you must request permission and include, among others, the portion of the commercial, film, program or storyboard that references Facebook. For more information, visit https://www.facebookbrand.com/.
On the other hand, setting up a brand guideline to allow other people to use your mark is a form of passive advertising.
By allowing other people to use your brand, it is a form of a licence. Rules must be implemented to ensure that your brand is not used in a disparaged manner.
When writing your brand guideline, do consider the following:
- What are the brands being licensed?
- Are there any territorial restrictions? (E.g., can only be used in all countries except X countries.)
- What are the circumstances where you can terminate the license immediately?
- What are the restrictions that you impose on the use? (E.g., cannot use on your competing services/ goods, not on websites with adult, racist or hateful content).
Facebook is not the only social media networking site to allow you to use its marks. Twitter and LinkedIn also have their own brand guidelines to follow.
Do take a read on using other people's marks or draft your own brand guidelines!
Foong Cheng Leong is a blogger pretending to be a lawyer, and a lawyer pretending to be a blogger. He blogs at xes.cx and foongchengleong.com, and tweets at @xescx and @FCLCo.
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