I have been working as a freelance PPC Manager for the last 2 years and have recently set up my own PPC website.
Most of the work i have currently done has come from agencies - they have provided a lot of the clients i have worked for.
On my new PPC website i have listed the clients i have worked for under experience but have not explicitly stated they were clients of my company. Instead i have worded it as "our staff have experience working with the following clients".
I did not get permission to use the logos on my site but i did not think it would cause a problem and i did indeed work on PPC campaigns for all the companies listed.
I have today received a letter from a big law firm asking me who gave me permission to use one of the logo's on the website.
I do not know how to handle this situation.
Any advice is appreciated.
Just remove the logo from your website, and don't think this issue again unless you hear back from the attorney.
Get permission to use the logo , and send the name of the person who issued that permission to the attorney.
I am not sure that removing the logo and not contacting them will work as they are a big company - blue chip in fact.
I do actually do some work for them but it runs through another agency that passes the work to me - so technically the agency is my direct client, however as stated above it was worded as experience our staff have... rather than this is our client.
In any case i never had permission to use it but isn't it considered fair usage to use a logo to demonstrate the companies i have worked with as examples?
If they are a big company, there is little reason to think that they really care much about you using their logo. They are probably just doing the ordinary cease and desist to protect control of their logo. Have you caused them any substantial material damage or gained materially to a significant degree by the use of their logo? (I mean significant to them, now you). If not, I wouldn't worry about this if you just take down the logo.
But it sounds like you don't really want to, hence the second paragraph. As for fair use, I'm not sure about this question. In fair use it doesn't matter if you profit on it or not, I don't think, and plenty of people use other companies logos in that way. But, I don't know if it's really enforceable or whether they could compel you to take it down. I do know that they could make it unpleasant for you to find out.
I doubt it's fair use to use their logo.
Using company logos would typically require their permission, and as an agency worker I doubt you'd get it - perhaps the agency could, but typically your employment contract would demand you remain anonymous, so I really doubt you'll get any joy.
That's usually the deal with such work - you get jobs handed on a plate, but the downside is that typically, you don't get to use the work in your portfolio.
Even if you worked for the company directly, you should gain permission to use their details and branding in your own marketing - some companies may not particularly care from a legal POV, but most will expect it as a courtesy.
I have removed the logo but am not sure what i should do next - maybe i should or should not contact them to tell them that?
I am worried that this won't be the end of it.
Don't contact them.
Why are you worried?
I would not contact them. There is no reason to as they both will lead to the same result if additional action is needed. If not, then you simply don't need to worry about it.
Option 1: You contact them to find out what to do next, they tell you what they want you to do (since you're offering)
Option 2: You don't contact them and if they do want you to take further action, they will contact you anyway
Option 3: You don't contact them and you've removed the logo, the problem is gone and they move on and so do you ... easy as that.
I'd choose Option 3
If you don't contact them the file remains open and in a pile on someone's desk. Sooner or later they will pick it up and take it to the next step.
I, myself, would contact them and tell them you took the logo down -- don't respond to their questions or invite further conversation. Getting the logo taken down is the biggest reason they contacted you and they will probably close their file.
Very odd advice.
What file are you referring to and who's desk would this be? If this is a large company that is simply sending out tons of notices to people found using their logo, I really doubt they would bother with a 'next step' if the logo were down. Further, what would that next step be if there were no damages to begin with (which I'm assuming there weren't).
If getting the logo down is the biggest reason they contacted you, per your post, then taking the logo down is the easiest way to satisfy them.
The original post says they received a letter from a big law firm. Some associate has started a file for everyone he has contacted, and eventually, he will follow up on his contacts.
As to damages, if we are talking about a registered trade mark, there are statutory damages.
But what will be accomplished by contacting them to tell them that the logo was removed?
Having reread this thread I think everyone agrees that taking the Logo down is the right decision.
Now the question becomes: do you reply to the law firm and tell them you took it down or not?
As I said in my post above, some associate at the law firm has opened a file. If he hears no response he is going to take the next step and escalate his actions. IMHO, I do not think the associate will take another look at the web site to see if you have taken action, but will assume from your silence that nothing has been done.
By contacting the lawyer and telling him you took the logo down, you have taken the action they are most interested in. At that point there is little to be gained from further action by the logo owner, and they will most likely go away.
This is doubtful.
Even Getty Images, the most notoriously aggressive defender of their IP/materials doesn't follow up on every lead from every fishing expedition. They send out thousands of letters, they follow up on many of them, and a handful go to legal. If the poster doesn't have deep pockets, there has been no real damage, and the logo was taken down then it's hard to imagine this 'big company' pursuing this legally.
In most cases, the legal folks are tasked with doing just the opposite. They seek to prevent unauthorized use of their logo in the most cost effective way, which in most cases is to send a letter or C&D and simply stop the misuse. Only in cases where there is some compelling reason to take legal action (i.e. real damages, real profits by other party, libel, or a juicy financial award) would they pursue it.
The action they are most interested in is the logo being taken down ... which they have already done. I highly doubt the action they are interested in is hearing from the person directly telling them that they took it down.
If this law firm finds this paper on their desk and wants to escalate it to further action, they would need to confirm that nothing was done (at which point they would look and see that the logo was no longer being used). No lawyer is going to "escalate" an action because notification wasn't given (unless that was explicitly stated in the request). If they notice was to take the logo down immediately, they have done so and followed the instructions requested. Nothing further is being asked, so nothing further is needed. Simple as that.