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In most websites that showcase mobile apps, photos of actual phones are shown as an example of what the app looks like. Sometimes, the phone's brand is visible; other times, the device is clearly an iPhone. For example:

My question is: is it legal to display phones like this, or do we need to obtain permission?

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A lot of times, they use generic brands for a clearly recognizable product. Most television shows when they use Apple computers, have a "pear" logo. I guess it depends on if you're using it to make money or not, and if it would be clearly portrayed as advertising or just being informative. –  ionFish Jun 16 '12 at 14:28

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Apple provides detailed guidelines[PDF] for marketing App Store items, including how you're allowed to use images of their hardware. You'll find various marketing resources, including approved images at their developer center. (Some of it requires login with your developer account.)

Here's a similar resource section for Nokia with, for example, a banner generator that lets you select from various devices to automatically include.

Many other companies provide similar marketing/press materials somewhere on their sites.

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Requires apple approval –  Frank Jun 18 '12 at 9:09
    
While you didn't actually answer the question regarding the legality of this, these are good pointers. Thank you! I do wonder: if I take a picture of my phone, I own the picture's copyright. If I then use my picture to promote the app, am I infringing on the phone company's copyright? –  Hernan Jun 22 '12 at 22:12

Although its technically infringing on their "brand" or copyright for you to use a device of its likeness to promote your app, I don't think Apple is going to mind much since they suck off 25% of what your app makes.

Other words, its really low risk.

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Sorry, but this is pretty much completely wrong in the specific case of Apple, and most likely for several if not all other manufacturers. –  Su' Jun 18 '12 at 8:48
    
So the app stores run off charity these days? –  Frank Jun 18 '12 at 8:49
    
Don't put words in my mouth. I said your information is wrong, and it is; there's nothing about charity. (And you're even wrong about Apple's percentage, for that matter.) Not only is there no infringement here, but many companies explicitly provide images for such promotional use, which you can now see in my answer. They'll come after you if you use their product images for deceptive purposes, etc. but that's an entirely different situation. –  Su' Jun 18 '12 at 8:56
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@frank you said 25% is that all apple take now, i thought it used to be a 30% ? –  sam Jun 18 '12 at 8:58
    
Maybe you can show us a link where apple has images of their products, which can be used for Commercial use, rather than editorial use. Very few companies (tech, auto, ...) allow their products, or images of them to be used for commercial purpose. You almost always need a release. If they can prove that your company somehow profited because of their brand or likeness then they have a case. But, as I said, chances of Apple suing you for the use of their devices to sell apps is very low. Now if you use an apple Iphone as an image to push a porno site, they might have a problem with that. –  Frank Jun 18 '12 at 9:00

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