What are the legal implications of creating a model with a brand-name?

I’m looking to create some props, and as I started picking reference objects from around my house, one of the first questions I asked myself is “is it legal to reproduce the brand logo?”

So, my question is: does American copyright/trademark law have anything to say about recreating a (for example) “Kobalt” brand screwdriver with the Kobal trademark on it AND SELLING THAT IMAGE/MODEL? Is it explicitly allowed, disallowed, or undefined?

Keep in mind:

  1. I can say to myself “it’s prolly fine” just as well as you can. That’s not an interesting answer.
  2. I can say to myself “just change the logo a little” just as well as you can… that’s not an interesting answer either.
  3. I can make stuff up just as well as you can. Answers without some kind of reference to the real world are ALSO uninteresting.
  4. As professionals, it’s important to answer this question so that we can preserve the legitimacy of our craft by promoting ethical behavior and condemning shysters.

Thanks, guys!

Also, I’m not asking for legal advice, so I won’t sue anybody, lol :wink: I’m just looking for an entry-point for researching it further.

When it comes to trademarks (which generally speaking we are when it comes to brand names), the issue isn’t copyright, it’s whether you are affiliating yourself with the brand. I don’t know what the precedent is in these kinds of cases as far as selling your work, but the general principle is that: As long as it does not appear that you are representing the (for example) Kobalt brand by including its logo in your model, then you are fine. If you were selling a set of tools, or a scene of a whole work bench, and there were Kobalt tools among them, that would be pretty clearly not representing the brand; it would be clearly incidental. But if the model you want to sell is literally just a Kobalt hammer, then Kobalt could pretty reasonably say that you are claiming to represent their brand. So, your call there, in any case I doubt there are serious repercussions.

On TurboSquid the editorial license is available to cover your needs.

Both excellent answers. Thanks!

I’ve modeled an electric drill with a brand name (a high profile one). I’ve posted the WIP in my Modo profile, which at that time I was seriously learning how to model in it. Luckily, I was in my element and modeled it exactly as it was. I added the caption, “Just for learning purposes.” I had the same concerns, and that was years ago and nobody has told me to remove it so far. :wink: I could have chosen a different brand and drill, but the shape and lines meeting in interesting places intrigue me. And it wasn’t easy to manipulate polygons and apply sub-d without deforming it. It’s been years and I don’t know if I could do it again. :wink:

if you own the product you are in the clear as far as artwork. you can not try to make the product in real life and sell it useing their names or trademarks. best example is andy warhols soup can. he didn’t owe campbells anything. racing teams can license their cars to racing games because they own the cars, its how some games get porche etc… and sometimes you can use the model but not the name. no car manufacturer will license their cars to be used in gta so they cant use the real names but everybody knows what the cars are.

I asked to use a logo from a fashion design company for learning purposes, I was told outright I could not use it by their legal department.

What if you created a chair, based upon some famous model, and printed it.
At what point someone becomes a copycat ?.

And how real, is the virtual world ?.

If you draw something or make a painting or photograph something at what point do you steal and at what point it beomces artistic interpretation ?. Andy warhall stacked cans of soup and called it art, and even got away with it.

I think your reasonable safe till the point your not making a lot of money with if on behalf of others.
I knew an artist once who created plaster model based upon toy dolls, and then adjusted them.

I think its all pretty vague if you dive into it.
If your an artist (is CG art realy art ???), then at least the one thing you shouldnt copy is your handsign, saying a copycat is a van Gogh is a big crime. For which you can get jailed.

razor would you feel safe posting a photo you took of anything? if you feel safe posting a photo you should feel safe posting a rendering etc… . yes any legal dept when asked is going to say no because its the easiest and safest thing to do. and a forgery is very different than he was asking. he is not trying to sell knockoffs as the real thing. you could make your own drawing of tom sawyer as you imagine him and do with it what you will. you are not allowed to copy the book word for word and claim you wrote it. but then again i supose it depends on what country you are in and under what legal system.

in china you can pirate anything without fear. copywrite and patten law varies from place to place.

I think it relates to the lengths someone will go to bring you to court. There was a post recently where an artist made some very “Disney Frozen-esque” snowflakes and mulled getting a few hundred for the models if they sold them. In our very limited dealing with Disney (we have done tie-in promotions with them) they don’t screw around and anything that might be their intellectual property, fonts, pantone combos, their logo, etc. you follow their lead and prepare to have your layouts torn apart to satisfy their decisions or they will “release the hounds” - If you stole their designs and tried to make money and they found out it would probably not be in your best interest to be you.

My personal experience with the education part was a “Coach” logo, the letter “C” - which when I asked I was told under no circumstance could I use it for anything or any reason, they didn’t care they made clothing accessories and we were making 3D animations for fun. Other entities might not care, I’ve seen plenty of Camaro models with the Chevy “Bow Tie” and apparently General Motors isn’t too stressed out over it.

The other part of your post would be an interesting plot twist to a prison movie "I got a life without parole for infringing on ‘Vase with 12 Sunflowers’ "

I live in the U.S. A lot of times you’ll see people on television wearing a hat with the logo blurred out. I’ve heard that’s because the legal department won’t allow it. This may be a ‘just to be on the safe side’ thing, but I wouldn’t do it, personally.

I’d say the only way you’re going to be legally safe is to be creative and don’t create duplicates of real world things. And even that’s no guarantee that some lawyer somewhere isn’t going to get their panties in a bunch (no offense intended).

I don’t think that’s the main reason. I think it’s about preventing free advertising. And I assume companies pay when their products are seen in movie scenes, etc. There could be some kind of pre-arrangement.

Yes, that’s another reason. I almost mentioned it. I have no idea which reason is more important. I still wouldn’t do it.

Hmm well at least Andy Warhall didnt care about it, he simply used a logo for his work

Here’s a good example. You don’t want to mess with Disney…