Here’s a good excerpt from a new book by copyright doyenne Nancy Wolff called The Professional Photographer’s Legal Handbook. It’s on a favorite topic of mine, namely intellectual property rights (supposed ones, that is) in buildings:
A three dimensional building will rarely serve as a trademark. An owner of a mark needs consistency to create a trademark. The building must be shown in the same angle on all brochures, advertising, marketing material, etc. Other museums or entities learning a lesson from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame may begin using the same image of their building consistently and over time build trademark rights. An example of the consistent use of a building as a trademark is the stylized illustration of the Transamerica pyramid as a logo for the insurance company. Use of the logo would constitute trademark infringement by a competitor, but showing the building in a skyline photo of San Francisco would not.