Film and Television Clearance: The Framework Trademark

Hi all,

I’ve got a headscratcher for the Framework team: how do you feel about Framework laptops showing up in TV and Film?

Props buyers and rental houses are always trying to woo producers with pretty and sleek looking laptops, and the Framework looks almost exactly like the present generation of Macbooks – which is one of the most featured laptops on screen today. The problem with the Macbook is that it has an unmistakable Apple logo, a trademark law boondoggle that nobody wants to get involved with (unless you have a product placement). Often, producers will pick props for the way they look, then leave the gritty details to on set crew. This is why you end up seeing plenty of silver stickers on screen.

The Framework doesn’t quite have this issue. I mean, there’s still the trademarked gear logo on the top, but these are untested waters.

Coupled with bezels and input covers that can be swapped out in mere minutes, not to mention a design with plenty of hiding places, the Framework laptop is uniquely positioned to usurp the mantle of the laptop prop-of-choice. The only outstanding question is that gear logo (until a logo-free top cover hits the marketplace).

Stealth topic for posting pictures of Framework laptops in the wild on set and on TV, I guess. It’s a slow start this year, but I’ll have a few to show off come April.


The only outstanding question is that gear logo (until a logo-free top cover hits the marketplace).

Very interesting topic. For the gear logo-free top cover, this laptop, Librem 14 by the company called Purism doesn’t have a logo on the top cover. And we discussed it in the past here.

For Framework, it’s good to promote Framework Laptop if it is used in the film or TV even if the logo is invisible. In my assumption right now Framework don’t think it’s beneficial to do a mass production of it. Maybe it’s better to ask Framework to do the custom order?

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Well, this is where things get complicated with Trademark law. It’s not simply an issue of exposure, but of representation and reputation.

For instance, the context in which a Framework logo appears in a production could create an association between the two that is undesirable to the owner. An easy way to think of it is in terms of villains: imagine that every villain in every movie happened to use a Framework laptop. That could establish a negative ‘character’ for the mark, damaging Framework’s consumer appeal.

Apple is another great example: because Apple now produces and distributes TV and Film, there might be the possibility of ‘misrepresentation’ if an Apple logo is featured on screen in a movie shown on a streaming service that isn’t AppleTV. It’d be like having a Marvel logo appear in a Batman movie.

And then there’s the matter of control. It’s not really your mark if you can’t control who uses it and when.

Now, with Framework we’re dealing with a relatively young, indistinct, and unknown trademark. Gear-like icons have an established public association with ‘settings’ screens and bike shops and all sorts of other places. Likewise, the trademark is itself only about three years old at this point. The stakes here are comparably low, but it’s not something that should be strong-armed and taken for granted.

In any case, we find ourselves at convenient intersection of many fortuitous points: producers want familiar-looking laptops, props masters want cheaper and more flexible props, and lawyers want fewer liabilities. There’s all sorts of novel on-set uses for these laptops, the fact that one can slot in four HDMI ports on a moment’s notice is just the upper crust.

I really dig the aesthetic that they have going on. Clean case, clean presentation. But it isn’t something that’s got me excited. Props teams have already solved the Macbook issue: just buy a $.30 sticker or a $15 hardcase and cover up the logo. Every props cart has a ‘Greeking’ kit that’s overflowing with every size and color of sticker for covering up a logo. Purism is a purple squirrel among trademarkers, but they offer roughly the same as everyone else when it comes to flexibility – which isn’t much. Purism is a privacy company, really.

Incidentally, a Librem 13 might have been the computer I bought back in November if I wasn’t looking at the Framework.

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