Using a Registered Trademark In Romance Fan Fiction

burger

I’m currently writing Book #2 (Baby, Count On Santa, which is romance fan fiction in the Southern Roads Amazon Kindle Worlds) and started wondering about naming stores and shops in the fictional mountain town of Sweetness, GA. If I want to call a store or product by a name that’s a registered trademark, am I going to be dragged into court?

According to an article on the blog, Daily Writing Tips, I’m probably okay to use most names in a book, unless the product (or trademarked store – say Macy’s) is represented in a defamatory way. For example, I’m probably fine to say my character goes to lunch at Burger King, but I might be in trouble if I imply that Burger King’s Whopper is a poison-laced sandwich that’s being sold in order to kill off the masses (*NOTE: I am NOT saying that here!). Sadly, the article also points out that I’ll probably never have to worry about a lawsuit over a registered trademark name/product unless I become the next J. K. Rowling.

As if…

While I’m not specifically using a HUGE brand name like Burger King’s, I do need to name my character’s shop. Since it’s a coffee shop, I had a ton of ideas. Cue the dismay – when I googled them, every one came up as an existing shop somewhere in the country (*NOTE: googling something is a no-no people…we search for something!).

The good news is that it’s unlikely any of the small businesses with names similar to my fictional store would ever pursue legal action if they saw it in one of my books. If, as the above-referenced article says, the big companies think it’s too much trouble to sue someone over unless you’re an A-list author, chances are that the small ones will ignore you, too. (Spoiler: no one is killed by my character’s coffee shop, anyhow).

Okay, back to crafting my novella. And, to get something to eat, since I’m hungry after googling searching for info on using a registered trademark.

Happy writing!

Robin Michaela’s newest books can be found here.

 

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