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Take care when using trademarked and other protected work

Event organizers here in South Florida often partner with local and national businesses who are sponsoring an event. Having these businesses' logos and other identifying images on your marketing material and around the event venue itself can help promote it. However, it's essential to get the appropriate clearances to avoid infringing on their intellectual property rights.

Even if you're using stock images found online for your marketing materials, it's essential to abide by any licensing agreements that those images carry. Read the terms and conditions carefully. For example, sometimes images may be used online but not in printed materials.

Even if you don't see any terms associated with an online image, that doesn't mean that you're free to download and use it as you choose. Businesses and individuals who put images online can track who has downloaded and used them. To avoid potential legal issues, make sure that you have permission before using an internet image.

If you're using photographs, remember that photographers generally own their photos. It's essential to have a signed contract with the photographer, such as a work for hire agreement.

If the photos contain images of people, it should be the responsibility of the photographer to get signed releases from those individuals to use their images for whatever purpose you're using them. If their images are used without their consent, they could sue. The photographer's responsibility for getting those releases should be included in your contract.

Of course, logos also require permission to use. If you're working with sponsors, you likely have contracts with them that include permission to use their logos in very specific circumstances. Make sure that those contracts are properly written. Logos are often a company's primary identifier. Misuse of them can be a serious intellectual property infringement.

When using logos, images and creative work produced by others and protected by trademarks and copyrights, it's essential that you have the appropriate releases. An experienced Florida intellectual property attorney can provide valuable guidance to help ensure that you won't run into unintended (and potentially expensive) legal issues.

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