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Dougherty and Mark Partridge, a Chicago intellectual property lawyer, also noted that a court rejected an effort to get by Caterpillar Inc. to get its logo removed from tractors driven by the villains in 2003’s “George of the Jungle 2.” The company had argued its trademark was harmed by having its product associated with the film’s villains.

Partridge said with the explosion of product placement in recent years, a company might try to make an argument that by the brand appearing in a film, the audience assumed it had granted permission. “You’d have to have proof that people actually making an association and believing it was authorized,” he said.

“It might be a different world,” he said, adding, “I still think it’s an uphill haul.”


AP Entertainment Writers Christy Lemire in Los Angeles and Jake Coyle in New York contributed to this report.


Anthony McCartney can be reached at