Why are Some Product Logos or Trademarks Blurred Out Within a TV Show or Film_

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Why are Some Product Logos or Trademarks Blurred Out Within a TV Show or Film?

One television shows, and in some films, you might have noticed a random can that has the logo or visible writing blurred out or perhaps you’ve seen a film that clearly placed a sticker or some other item directly overtop the logo of a piece of equipment or other element that was used in the shoot. But why? Why do some films visible show products and why are some product logos or trademarks blurred out within a TV show or film?


It’s complicated…

There are a number of potential reasons why some product logos or trademarks might be blurred out within a TV show or a film and others are not.

In fact, you might notice a show that seemingly includes all of the logos and trademarks. And you might notice a show that blurs out some but not others.

Still yet, you could even find some shows that blur some logos or trademarks and not others. But why? Again, it’s complicated…

Is it Illegal to Use a Brand Name, Product Logo, or Trademark without Permission?

This is an incredibly common question that typically comes up whenever someone sees product logos or trademarks blurred out in a television show or a motion picture.

If you’re wondering whether it’s illegal to use these visual details in a film that you produce. The short answer is, “NO.” 

Permission is generally not required in order to use a logo or trademark in a film or television show. As long as you’re not doing so in a manner in which you could undermine or degrade the brand.

Or otherwise harm the reputation of the business, brand, or owner of the logo or trademarked content. So, if it’s not illegal then…Why are some product logos or trademarks blurred out within a TV show or a film while others are not?

“Greeking” Out

Have you ever heard the term, “It’s Greek to me?”  You probably have, but not in terms of filmmaking or necessarily in this particular instance.

“It’s Greek to me” is a phrase that is used to basically say that someone doesn’t really make sense to the individual saying it. So for example, if I explain something to you. And you can’t quite make sense of it? You would say, “it’s Greek to me.”  

In Production

Similarly, when action is taken to blur out a logo or trademark in a film, the process is referred to as “greeking”. In reference to the “it’s Greek to me” phrase.

Which means it cannot be recognized. Greeking is a process which takes place usually during post-production through editing.

But it could be performed during production by placing a sticker over a logo or trademark. Or otherwise using tape, markers or other measures during a shoot to quickly obscure a visible logo or trademark. But Why?

Film Producers are Cautious


If it’s not illegal to use branded items in a film or on television. Then why are some product logos or trademarks blurred out within a TV show or film?

The most common reason is, because filmmakers including both film production companies and film studios are cautious.

They don’t want any legal trouble. And they tend to be diligent (most of the time) in preventing anything that could give rise to a lawsuit.

Harming a Brand

Remember, that it’s only illegal to show a product logo or trademark IF doing so harms or jeopardizes the brand in some manner. Now, let’s say that a brand is used in a television show.

And you, the filmmaker, don’t think there’s any potential that your production will jeopardize or harm the brand. So you don’t hide the brand, it’s prominently displayed in several scenes of your production.

You’re not worried about it at all, and you believe you have done nothing wrong. But what if the brand owner later says that people stopped purchasing their products? Because they associated the products with your video and it was a negative association.


If there’s any proof, even small bits of proof. Or if there is any potential that any negative association could be made between your video and the brand that was portrayed in the video.

Then the brand owner could file a civil lawsuit against you and there is a chance that they might win.

To prevent any hassle, in having to later adjust the video after all of the hard work and money in post-production has already occurred. And also to prevent a lawsuit from being brought forth in the first place.

Many filmmakers will be proactive and hide or otherwise obscure brand logos and trademarks before the fact.

There is No Free Advertising


Caution is not the only reason why some product logos or trademarks are blurred out within TV shows and videos.

Some filmmakers will obscure these elements from their film. So as not to provide free advertising to these brands. In fact, they often do this for two very distinct purposes surrounding advertising.

Special Deals

For starters, television media distributors will often enter into special deals. That provide exclusive advertising for brands allowing only those brands to have their commercials shown in between the scheduled programming.

When these types of exclusive deals are entered into within a network there may be a decision. Made by the filmmaker or requested by the network of the filmmaker. To omit any instances of brand visibility which could be competitive in nature to the exclusive brand.

In this case, a distributor might have a deal with Coke. And would therefore require any use of Pepsi products in a television show to be omitted or obscured. So as to prevent any anger from Coke, Inc.

Other Reasons

Another reason that some product logos or trademarks are blurred out within a TV show or film is specifically because there is not free advertising!

The filmmaker might want to sell product integration in which case. Rather than show Coke products or Pepsi products in a film without any sort of agreement having been made.

The film producer and the network distributor make a deal. To show one product or another in the film and profit from it.

So in this circumstance, no money = no visibility of products in the film! And thus, products are intentionally blurred out. Unless and until the brand is willing to pay up.

Copyrights, Objections by Owners & Other Reasons

So, why are some product logos or trademarks blurred out within a TV show or film while others are not? As we previously stated, it’s complicated…

The truth of the matter is, film producers can have a multitude of reasons behind their decision to blur out or obscure the logos or trademarks of brandished items within their films.

Most of the time it is not copyright related. But there are some instances in which it could be. It’s important for you to know that the copyright owners and trademark owners have rights to the logos and branding.

That might be shown in a film. And these rights do allow them to state that they do NOT want to see their logo in your video content. 


If a copyright or trademark owner states that they do NOT want their logo, brand or trademark associated with your film. Even seen in your film. Or otherwise involved. Then you must oblige!

There are many reasons that a copyright owner might not want to have their product in a video. And as the owner or representative for the brand trademark or copyright. They do not have to provide a reason to you.

In Summary

And finally, as complicated as it is, why are some product logos or trademarks blurred out within a TV show or film? Some of the time it has to do with what others like and the connections that are made by viewers.

For example, some people like Coke and others like Pepsi (and some like both). Most people would not completely stop watching a show just because someone in the show drinks Coke or Pepsi and they don’t like it.

But filmmakers might believe that preferences toward a brand could cause a loss of audience. And to prevent that, they will blur out logos and trademarks. Rather than show one or the other. 

So, why are some product logos or trademarks blurred out within a TV show or film and others are not? It’s complicated…

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