Why were TV shows created

Why do TV shows and movies hide logos?

Have you ever wondered why some TV shows go to great lengths to cover up logos on laptops and other popular products? The reasons for this are seemingly simple, but not necessarily clear-cut.

You've probably seen this on TV many times: a character is using a laptop or a group of experts are sitting around a table with their tablets discussing the latest topics. Instead of a familiar logo, however, there is a general sticker on the device. Most of the time it will be an Apple laptop, but you will also find that it is the case with Dells and other manufacturers as well.

It doesn't end there. This also happens with other products. Whether it's clothing brands or soft drinks, TV and film producers cover up product logos or blur (as is often the case with reality TV) logos. The practice of using a simple piece of tape to cover up a logo is commonly known as "greeking" and is significantly less expensive than using a computer to pixelate a logo.

Other times, TV shows and movies are made an imaginary brand that is very close to the brand it is imitating, but only so different that it is impossible to sue. It's not hard to see what is mocking the imaginary brand, and the audience can draw the obvious comparison more meaningfully than just showing the original product.

But why should anyone do that? Is it illegal to display logos on TV without the trademark owner's permission?

Why are you doing that?

This practice is commonly known as product shift. You've probably heard of product placement, which is where brands pay money for a TV show to use their products on camera. Product relocation is the opposite of where a show removes a trademarked product. There are a few reasons this can happen.

First of all, a brand owner may require a license fee to display the logo, especially if someone created their own product and placed a brand logo on it. You can't just use an existing brand's logo without first obtaining a license to do so. There is still a lot to do before a company can display a brand logo on their own product. Why would the show want to pay money when it could just as easily cover it up?

There is also the issue of free advertising. If you could get a brand paid to display their logo on your show, why would you want to show it off for free? If a broadcaster does not want to give away airtime to Apple or Nike, the logo is hidden to prevent this. Conflicts of interest can also arise, meaning a network can have multiple advertisers who all pay good money for commercials. The last thing a network wants is to give the impression that it prefers or explicitly supports a particular company.

Finally, there are cases when a trademark owner is eligible object This is especially true when a product is presented in a negative light. For example, NBC was recently sued over an episode of Heroes, one of the characters putting her hand in a garbage disposal. During the scene, the disposal InSinkErator logo can be clearly seen. InSinkErator's parent company, Emerson Electronics, strongly disagreed and immediately took legal action.

It may seem like an exaggerated reaction, but many companies don't want their products to be flattered. For this reason, you will often see reports from men on the street in which respondents are wearing clothing with pixelated logos. Should any of these people say or do something that might be embarrassing, the media outlet could counter a blow to the brand owner of that apparel logo.

Legal or illegal?

With that in mind, let's look at our original question: is it illegal to put logos on clothing, food, computers, etc.? The simple answer is "no". It's not illegal at all. In fact, everything is covered under fair use. Just as you or anyone has the right to name the NFL championship game "The Super Bowl" and record it and speak to other people about it regardless of what the NFL would have you believe.

The same applies to everything else, whether it's a can of Coca Cola or a jacket from Adidas or a laptop from Apple. Television and film producers are on their guard in most cases. Nobody wants to pay for an unfortunate oversight like the InSinkErator / NBC debacle. What NBC did was technically not illegal, but Emerson felt it was "portraying the disposer in an unsavory light that irreparably tarnishes the product" as a gain from another company's trademark.

Ultimately, however, it also means that nobody gets free advertising - and companies continue to receive incentives to pay for product placement.

So the next time you're watching a movie or a TV and you see an Apple computer with a hidden logo or a fictional Coca-Cola tee, you better know why.

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