When can a filmmaker use a trademark in a scene?

The recent premiere episode of Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That features the dramatic death of a prominent character, who experiences a heart attack after finishing a workout on one of popular exercise brand Peloton’s stationary bikes. It’s a bold creative decision to start the new HBO show by series developer Michael Patrick King.

It’s also a decision that indie filmmakers and major motion picture and television producers alike often need to consult about with an entertainment lawyer. Not the life-or-death story choice itself in this case—but the decision to depict a real-world product in a way that could lead to litigation. When do you need a license from the manufacturer to show an actual recognizable branded product and its trademarks onscreen in your film? (more…)