Window Graphics 101: Be Careful Using Licensed Images

by Maggie Harlow on May 29, 2014

When designing window graphics for your business — storefront, restaurant, bar, etc. — there are some don’ts you need to remember, number one being the use of licensed and trademarked images.

For example, it might be tempting for a sports bar to put up some window graphics showing their support for their favorite sports team, or announcing that they’re showing Sunday’s games on all their TVs. Or it could even be a banner wishing the home team good luck in the upcoming playoffs.

Regardless, the sports bar could run into some trouble with the league lawyers who take exception to the use of the league’s licensed images on the bar’s window graphics.

Window Graphic 2That’s one of the sticky issues that we deal with at Signarama. We’re often asked to use licensed images for a variety of applications — a comic book character for a kid’s room, a scene from a movie for a mural, or even sports teams logos for window graphics. The problem is, we can’t do it, even if we’re asked to do it “in secret. I promise, no one will know it was you.” It’s just never going to happen.

Many different Signarama franchisees have been asked on many different occasions if this is something we can do. But unfortunately, unless you have a license or permission from the owner of the image, it’s not something we can use, even if you found it on the Internet. It violates copyright and trademark law, and the fines can be in the thousands of dollars, even to the company that does the reproduction. So to avoid any possible problems, we never reproduce trademarked or copyrighted images.

Our recommendation for restaurants and bars that want to use branded images on their window graphics is to talk to your suppliers. For example, beer makers often sponsor different sporting organizations and events — the NFL, NBA, or IndyCar, for example — and cross-promote the league with the sponsor’s branding. We’ve seen team schedules, banners, and window graphics from beer companies that includes the team’s logo, which they have licensed from the team or the league.

If you need window graphics and other materials to help you promote a special event or season, we’re happy to help you. We just have to be careful to avoid any legal problems that come with using licensed images without permission.

For more information on window graphics and other display material, please visit the Signarama website. You can also use our online store locator to find the Signarama nearest you.

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– who has written 19 posts on Signarama Blog.

is the owner of SIGNARAMA Downtown and Transworld/FranchiseMart in Louisville, Kentucky. She has expertise in lighted signage, large format digital printing, custom signage, vinyl graphics, banners, trade show displays and all other types of display and signage. You can follow her on Twitter at @SignaramaMama.

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