Signs and Business Development

The vast majority of the following information comes from what was formerly posted on the Small Business Administration website, beginning in 2000 in the “Starting Your Own Business” section. You can read how it occurred at http://signreference.org/2000/09/15/isa-signage-foundation-signs-web-agreement-with-sba/Unfortunately, some egos in sign-industry leadership irked the SBA, and it was taken down. Ideally, sometime in the near future, […]

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How do the First and Fourteenth Amendments affect regulation of my business sign?

First Amendment protections guarantee some of our most basic freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of the press, and freedom of religious expression. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution makes the First Amendment’s federal constitutional guarantees enforceable against actions of state and local government. Thus, a local […]

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How will my business sign be regulated?

Signage is regulated through the following two categories: Building and electrical codes The construction, installation, and operation of any permanent business sign will need to conform to all applicable building and electrical codes. Because compliance with these codes requires specialized technical expertise, a business owner should specify that conformity to these codes is the responsibility […]

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Trademarks and Logos – Federal Preemption (Lanham Trademark Act)

The Lanham Trademark Act, at 15 U.S.C. 1121, prohibits states, and their political subdivisions, from requiring alteration of federally registered names, marks and colors where included within the registration. The decisions in two recent federal cases concerning the Lanham Act have split on whether the Act preempts a local government’s ability to foreclose the display […]

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Fourteenth Amendment Application to Sign Control

Fourteenth Amendment Application to Sign Control Under the Fourteenth Amendment, applicable to the states and their subdivisions, a state or local-government regulation may not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deprive a person of equal protection of the laws. Due process. A fundamental requirement of due process […]

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First Amendment Application to Sign Control

The Fourteenth Amendment makes the First Amendment’s freedom-of-speech provision applicable to states and their political subdivisions. While many sign codes begin as content neutral “time, place, and manner” regulations (or “police power” exercises), further analysis often reveals the ordinance violates First Amendment “free speech” guarantees. Even in cases where the subject ordinance is not per se […]

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Fifth Amendment Application to Sign Control

The Fifth Amendment applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. It contains two guarantees: The “due process” clause, as in the Fourteenth Amendment, protects citizens from government action that arbitrarily deprives them of a fundamental right without due process of law, and it applies to both the act itself and the procedures incidental to […]

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Signage Sourcebook (2003)

US Small Business Administration’s Guide for Sign Use. Signage Source Book Cover (PDF – 2MB) Forward, Acknowledgement & Contents (PDF – 0.2MB) The Science of Signs Introduction: The Science of Signs (PDF – 12MB) Signs and Traffic Safety (PDF – 22.MB) The FHWA Approach (PDF – 18MB) Conspicuity and Readability Issues (PDF – 9MB) Legibility […]

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