Breakfast Stock Club member Jeff Kontur brought up a great point that I’d like to share.

We talk a lot about avoiding branding and other trademarked elements in our stock photos. Usually this is as easy as removing or excluding a logo from your shot.

However, as Jeff discovered, sometimes this isn’t enough. I’ll let him tell you about it, below… 

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A Stock Photo Lesson Learned the Hard Way
By Stock Photographer Jeff Kontur

Sitting at the sidewalk cafe in Amsterdam, with its teak wood tables and the breakfast that was just carried out to me, I was flushed with an excitement that I think only a fellow photographer could fully understand and appreciate.

Before I took a sip of the rich, European coffee… before I tasted any of the delicious looking muesli and yogurt… first I arranged and rearranged things on the table, happily snapping photos that I was sure would be huge winners for my stock portfolio.

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Images before removing the logos.

I knew of course that the logo and other writing on top of the little creamer cup would never be accepted by any stock agency. So once back home, I meticulously edited out all writing.

I sent them in and waited with excited anticipation.

161111BSCExample2
Images after removing the logos.

My photos were rejected for trademark infringement potential.

What?

I looked carefully at each one and could find no logos or anything identifiable in them. These were CLEAN photos. So I wrote to iStock to ask for clarification.

It turns out that the design and coloring of the creamer cup itself is highly recognizable even without the logo. It’s known to belong to a company that is extremely protective of its design characteristics.

Lesson learned.

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Thank you for sharing this learning experience Jeff! The issue of trademark and copyright can be a little messy at times.

Here’s a helpful list from Shutterstock of landmarks, objects, and events that are off limits for commercial stock use.

Has anyone else run into unexpected image rejections from trademark issues? Share your experience on the Breakfast Stock Club Facebook page. It’s a great way for everyone to learn!

And, in the future, to avoid issues like these, simply remove any objects that you suspect might be trademarked… or blur them out in the background or partially obscure them.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about getting started selling your photos online in stock agencies – no matter how much or little photography experience you have – in the Breakfast Stock Club e-newsletter. It’s once a week, and it’s free to join, here.]

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