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My site promotes local businesses. Can I legally use any of their names in my ads?

I run a website that promotes local businesses. Can I legally use any of their names in a magazine ad for my site?
If not, what would be required to do so safely?

If it matters, we're based in CA.

14 Replies

Irwin Stein
2
0
Irwin Stein Advisor
Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.
A lot depends on what you say and the context in which you say it. To be perfectly safe, obtain their permission in writing.
Manuel Pacheco
0
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Manuel Pacheco Entrepreneur
Marketing & Advertising Solutions
Any online information it's public information, and you can use it. But if you will be adding information such as images, about the business info etc, you will need permission.
Good luck
Eric Gaze
0
0
Eric Gaze Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO of beakun.com
@Irwin - the names are strung together to create a backdrop, like in this image, although obviously not as negative.
Eric Gaze
0
0
Eric Gaze Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO of beakun.com
@Manuel - If that is the case, how do Yelp or other sites post info about a business without the business profile being "claimed"? I always figured yelp posted info on their own, while the business could take over their profile, aka: "claim" it, if/when they wanted to.
Manuel Pacheco
0
0
Manuel Pacheco Entrepreneur
Marketing & Advertising Solutions
Eric, that company have a telemarketers and representatives contacting businesses and it's a different advertising approach with online reviews.

This is a totally different scenario compare with your first question regarding magazine ad's "Can I legally use any of their names in a magazine ad"

It looks like you want to be safe publishing, and the only way as Irwin reply, ask for permission.

Irwin Stein
0
0
Irwin Stein Advisor
Very experienced (40 years) corporate,securities and real estate attorney.
Eric: There is material in the public domain and there is material that is trademarked and copyrighted. I have seen ads similar to "we beat Costco's prices" questioned. Sometimes not. If you are referring to another business to promote your own there is always the possibility that the other business will not want to be associated with you. Even if you are promoting a local business, context matters. Lawyers, and I am one, can make your life miserable if one of the companies whose name you use takes your meaning or intent differently than you intended it. In this day and age, an ad like the one you just posted could get you in a lot of trouble. Can you see the lawyers letter that says "you included my client on a list of businesses, one of which hires gays (or conversely, refuses to serve gays)." You are looking for an easy answer to a complex problem. And it does matter what state you are in and into which states the ad might be directed (web ads go to all 50 states). I feel like a broken record on FD. If you want to do it right and protect your business, hire a lawyer.
Anupam Mukherjee, PMP
0
0
Anupam Mukherjee, PMP Entrepreneur
Director, GIS & Application Development at AAA
Hi Eric, Pretty interesting what you are doing> I have an iOS app that does something similar, but geared towards promoting business at belong to a chamber of commerce. I am open to some marketing arrangements in your region, if you are interested. Check out www.biz2map.com Let me know. Thanks! Anupam
Shel Horowitz: Shel AT GreenAndProfitable com
0
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I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing
Yes, you need permission, Eric. It doesn't matter if you think you're right. As Irwin points out, what matters is if any of the businesses you list feel in any way abused and if they have deep enough pockets to take it up in court.

If these are client businesses of yours, permission should be easy to get. If you have no relationship with them, they shouldn't be in your ad in the first place (and might get you in trouble for deceptive advertising, in addition to the issues that others have raised). Ask--pointing out any advantages to them of inclusion, get it in writing, and be smart and safe. And if you're not getting the permissions, drop this concept. There are 1000 different ways to market any particular business--as a marketing consultant, I can tell you that ads are often the least effective for the investment anyway. Don't get so stuck on this one idea that you let it mess you up forever.
Eric Gaze
0
0
Eric Gaze Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO of beakun.com
Thanks for all the feedback. I had a sneaking suspicion that people could get mad and you confirmed it. I'll drop the idea.

Best wishes!


Manuel Pacheco
0
0
Manuel Pacheco Entrepreneur
Marketing & Advertising Solutions
Eric, Do not drop the idea for simple comments you have to understand people are busy sometimes and they don't mean to be rude, they just busy.
Train your mind to get over these situations and you will be successful, I like your business idea, it has potential just be persistent.

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