Using company logos on my own website
Thread poster: Maria Bruessler

Maria Bruessler  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
English to German
+ ...
May 27, 2015

Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of building a website advertising my translation services. Now, I'm mainly working for translation agencies, but though them I've worked for several big companies who are very well known in their fields. Does anybody happen to know if it's legal for me to put the end clients logos on my website? Obviously, I wouldn't state that I've worked for them directly. I could of course ask the translation agencies whether I may use their logos, but a) I don't really want to walk around telling everyone about who specifically I work for and b) having the end clients' logos might be more relevant for prospective clients.

Thanks for your input!

Maria


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:40
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Tread carefully May 27, 2015

This must have been discussed in the past.

I would be extremely careful doing things like that. Company logos are proprietary, so you need the companies' written permission to use them. I know that some sites do this, but you don't know if they have permission to do so.

Furthermore, if you haven't worked directly for these companies but only via agencies, you may be violating various agency contracts by contacting their clients directly.

If you cannot obtain these permissions above board, then it's very simple: don't do it.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I wouldn't do that May 27, 2015

I agree with Thomas; I wouldn't do as you envisage. You weren't directly working for these companies. They didn't commission your translations. They were not *your* clients. You're on dangerous ground here and it could end up costing you more money than you can think of !!!

That said, it might be OK to mention them in your CV - if you word it carefully. But you should never give the impression, directly or by implication, that these companies actually commissioned you to work for them. Remember that your website goes global and even if you remove anything from it in future, or even if you take the whole website offline, it stays there anyway. So you have to be careful!

Why not just say, on your website, something like "I have translated on behalf of some of the world's leading companies. Details available on request" ?

[Edited at 2015-05-27 11:43 GMT]


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Maria Bruessler  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That was my gut feeling as well... May 27, 2015

yet I was hoping there might be a way of doing it. It would add a lot of credibility, after all.

Thanks for your replies, Thomas and Tom!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Updated May 27, 2015

I've just updated my post- Apologies.

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Epameinondas Soufleros  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 03:40
Member (2008)
English to Greek
+ ...
Mentioning 'indirect' clients May 27, 2015

I don't think it is unlawful or unethical to mention companies that have used texts that you have translated. This is exactly what I have done (see http://glossotechnema.eu/Clients). What you are not allowed to say is "I have worked for agency X whose client is Y". If you mention your immediate and your end clients in the way I have done, I don't think there is a problem. There is no connection made between the two; they are listed separately and independently of each other.

[Edited at 2015-05-27 11:49 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:40
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Even mentioning their names without logos could be problematic May 27, 2015

It is generally accepted that when you have worked for a company as an employee, you can mention it in public.

However, when you supply services to a company as a freelancer or business, such services will in many cases be subject to various non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Such NDAs should make it clear that information already in the public domain is not subject to the agreement. We obviously know that these companies exist already, so we can discuss them in public. Nevertheless, the direct or indirect connection between you and them was not already publicly known, so making that connection public may still be a breach of the NDA. You don't know if these companies want the public (and their competitors) to know where they buy their services.

I personally wouldn't touch this with a barge pole. If it blows up in your face, it could be really bad.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 02:40
English to Polish
+ ...
Most likely not May 27, 2015

Maria Bruessler wrote:

Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of building a website advertising my translation services. Now, I'm mainly working for translation agencies, but though them I've worked for several big companies who are very well known in their fields. Does anybody happen to know if it's legal for me to put the end clients logos on my website? Obviously, I wouldn't state that I've worked for them directly. I could of course ask the translation agencies whether I may use their logos, but a) I don't really want to walk around telling everyone about who specifically I work for and b) having the end clients' logos might be more relevant for prospective clients.

Thanks for your input!

Maria


It's quite probable that the contracts you've signed with those agencies expressly prohibit that. Fair or not, those contracts are still legally binding unless you can successfully challenge them, which isn't probable in such circumstances. The identity of individual links in the supply chain is capable of being a protected trade secret. EDIT: In any case, even if the agency had no problem with your claiming association with the end client, the end client would still have something to say about the use of its logos, trademarks etc. — you need permission for that sort of thing.

[Edited at 2015-05-27 12:58 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Logos are pretty and colourful, but... May 27, 2015

Maria Bruessler wrote:
Does anybody happen to know if it's legal for me to put the end clients logos on my website?


I would not have thought that it would be a problem, but a quick google shows that my opinion is the minority one. Most sources on nominative use of trade marks that I can quickly find state that you can use the trade mark only to the degree necessary to identify the company, but no further. This means that you can mention their name, using a normal font, but you can't use their logo. I have no idea why, but that is what the opinion seems to be.

After all, to infringe upon a trade mark you have to create confusion or doubt in the minds of people about your relationship with that trade mark, and if it's on a page or section called "end-clients I've translated stuff for", then there can be no doubt that you're not trying to use those logos to imply some kind of relationship with the companies other than the relationship already stated.

As for simply mentioning the end-clients... I don't see the problem.


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Fırat Şanlıtürk
Turkey
Local time: 03:40
English to Turkish
+ ...
Depends on the use May 27, 2015

Although I agree with everyone else here in terms of legal issues, in practice, it all depends on the relationship between you and said companies. If/when you're making money by using proprietary materials (such as logos and names) directly, (e.g.: branding your goods with a logo that belongs to someone else), or disclosing any confidential information -deliberately or unintentionally- , they would most likely sue you for it and demand compensation. Referances are a bit trickier for in all honesty, you're scratching each others backs (although you can never be sure that they will see it that way). It's like 'mutual advertisement' in a sense. Still, it's ethically more correct and in business terms more 'fashionable' to ask for permisson first no matter what. Usually, the parties add provisions to the contracts they make, stating that either party may use any disclosed information (company name, contact information, published works, scheduled events, etc.) in any way that they deem may benefit either party. In your next contract/project you may want to state such a provision in advance (preferably in writing) stating your desire to refer to them for your future works.

All in all, it's worth the effort to send some e-mails and at least make your intentions known. Also, please keep in mind to save any e-mails and correspondence you send and receive for further use.


Disclaimer: None of the opinions stated above are intended as legal advise and in doubt it's highly recommended to consult a professional. These opinions and examples are based on personal experience and legal documents (e.g.: contracts, laws, etc.) translated by myself and are based on international trade laws, however applications may vary according to contract terms, local regulations and others.

[Edited at 2015-05-27 13:02 GMT]


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 21:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No May 27, 2015

I don`t think it is legal or appropriated. I wouldn't advise doing it.

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:40
German to English
Why provide free advertising? May 27, 2015

By placing a company's logo on your website, you are in effect providing a free ad for the company in question. What's to be gained from that?

You're really better off using the space on your web page to sell your own services.


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Natalie Soper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
French to English
+ ...
Seems Risky May 27, 2015

I wondered about the same thing for my website, too. Perhaps it's best to word it more vaguely, for example "I have translated on behalf of several Fortune 500 companies" and then list the industries/sectors? I have no idea if that is a no-go as well, though.

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Maria Bruessler  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:40
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Lots of interesting thoughts May 27, 2015

and comments, thanks everyone! I'll probably stay on the safe side and not mention any company in particular, as overall, it doesn't seem like a risk worth taking.

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