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Nominative Fair Use of Ride-Share Logos?

Posted in Advertising, Articles, Branding, Fair Use, Infringement, Marketing, Social Media, Trademarks

Earlier this year, we contemplated a suitable, accurate, and efficient generic name for the service category created by the highly-disruptive Uber brand: App-Based Ride Service.

A visit to Chicago this past weekend, left me thinking that Ride-Share Service or Ride Sharing are suitable alternatives, that appear to be gaining some traction, as seen here:

RideSharePickUpSign

The sign appears to be designed by the hotel to steer drivers of these kinds of vehicles away from the apparently more-highly preferred and more traditional incoming taxi lane.

Especially interesting to me is that the hotel apparently opted to avoid a generic-looking informational sign with no brand names or logos, like the one at the Minneapolis airport:

App-BasedRideSign

Do you think the hotel knows that using more of another’s trademark than is necessary to fairly identify another’s brand disqualifies the user of the nominative fair use defense?

Conventional wisdom has been that using the visual style and/or logo of another brand is, in fact, more than needed to fairly communicate and refer to the brand by name only.

Does the sign above showing the Uber and Lyft logos suggest that conventional wisdom is eroding, perhaps indicating that a recognizable brand symbol is now nominative fair game?

Or, does using the actual logos suggest that the hotel has arrangements with Uber/Lyft?

If so, the third element of the nominative fair use test would be missing too, but unnecessary, if in fact, permission exists.

Does anyone happen to know if hotels might be paid by a ride share brand to promote their brand, kind of like product placement in a motion picture context?