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famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 15th, 2010, 10:57 pm
by hulbertsfriend
Can I use the names of famous Hotels (Hiton, Marriott, ect) and name brands (Ford, Bugs Bunny, Superman, etc) in my writing? Should I affix (R) or (C) after each as they are used? Thx,Doug M

Re: famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 15th, 2010, 11:10 pm
by steve
I grant you permission to use brand names as you wish in your writing.

I charge a small fee.

Please send me $1 for every brand name you use.

PayPal or Nigerian bank transfers are accepted.

Thanks,


Steve
CEO, Brand Names Inc.

Re: famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 15th, 2010, 11:12 pm
by hulbertsfriend
How about a check? maybe a piece of wisdom instead of money?

Re: famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 16th, 2010, 10:57 am
by Robin
LOL! @steve.

Re: famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 16th, 2010, 11:20 am
by E McD
My understanding is that you can reference any company/brand as a point of reference or setting; however, you'd want to be careful in two respects:
1. In any way defaming the institution.
2. Dating your work.

Of course this is different than full-on quoting large passages of copyrighted material - completely different ballgame there.

Re: famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 16th, 2010, 1:22 pm
by Margo
E McD wrote:My understanding is that you can reference any company/brand as a point of reference or setting; however, you'd want to be careful in two respects:
1. In any way defaming the institution.
2. Dating your work.
Excellent points, both. There was a discussion here on the forums not long ago about an author being sued by a business that had been used as a setting in the book with one of their employees being the villain.

I know for me as a reader brand references can really backfire. If something is too dated (was hot in '95 and doesn't even exist anymore) it makes the story seem stale and pulls me out of the meditative state. It probably wouldn't be as big a risk if you're using a brand that's unlikely to disappear in the next couple of decades, and if you don't get too specific about make and model sort of info.

I can't think of any instances where I've seen the TM symbols in a novel after a brand name. That would REALLY pull me out of the story.

Re: famous names, places and brands

Posted: July 17th, 2010, 10:15 am
by jfw
Basically, you don't want to use the brand negatively as E McD pointed out, and you don't want to make it look like you have any affiliation with the brand. Note that Fannie Flagg didn't need to mark her references to the Piggly Wiggly in Fried Green Tomatoes. (A great read, BTW, and different enough from the movie that the latter doesn't spoil the former.) I would use them sparingly and only when necessary. If the plot allows it, it's more fun to make up brands with wryly symbolic names anyway.
Here's a page I found that will give more detail on the subject:
http://www.publaw.com/fairusetrade.html