1. Dreamer135
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    Dreamer135 New Member

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    are you allowed to mention actual restaurants or stores in books?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dreamer135, Mar 1, 2010.

    just like the question says, i need to know if it is Ok to mention actual restaurants or stores in books.

    PS, couldn't find a place to actually post this, so i hope this is the right spot.
     
  2. Berserkr
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    Berserkr Member

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    You mean allowed!

    As far as I'm aware you are allowed "fair use" of a trademark. As long as you are not seen as advertising a product or disparaging it. If you mention a brand name in passing it should be fine.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I don't see what's wrong with it. Saying "Bob McCloud often went to Burger King at lunch" isn't bad. However, if you derailed your own book by entering a paragraph-long speech about why you think Burger King sucks, then yeah, that's another matter entirely.
     
  4. Dreamer135
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    Dreamer135 New Member

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    what if it's writen like this:
    Apart from Honnel obviously being such a small place and most likely being quiet and boring, after doing some checking on the internet, I found that it didn't even have an imo's pizza.
    What am I supposed to eat without my St. Louis styled pizza? Salad?
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That might be too wordy and jarring. If you want to express dislike for a resturant, I'd have a character do something like that.

    "Bah! That resturant? You must be joking, man. That doesn't even have St. Louis-styled pizza! Next!"
     
  6. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Rather than get mixed up in the liabilities of libel, why don't you just make up a name of a restaurant instead of using a real one? I just think it'd be easier.
     
  7. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    I second that. Of course people do it but to be honest I can't pull anything off the top of my head where it wasn't something they had made up themselves. Be creative. I actually don't think I would even want to hear about some guy going to Taco Bell in a story.
     
  8. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's a problem, although it's undoubtabley more creative to figure something else out.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's done all the time... as long as you don't disparage the place/thing, you're at no risk of being sued...

    beserkr...
    it has nothing to do with 'fair use'... you can study up on what that term really means at the source: www.uspto.gov / www.copyright.gov

    ab...
    'slander' is when someone is dissed vocally... 'libel' is when it's done in print...
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And both are forms of 'defamation'.
     
  11. taylor.kuykendall
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    Hmm...

    Well, what about this example? I just so happened to have brought a little conversation about Taco Bell into my novel... Maybe it should be deleted?

    "As I drove off an exit in the middle of North Carolina, I noticed two things at once. I was heading in the direction of my old college town in West Virginia, and a Taco Bell was still open even though it was 2 a.m. Taco Bell was significant to me, because not only had she lead me there on many occasions, but it was also the refuge of all of us who prefer living at night and remained awake for far too long. No one of any higher moral conviction visited Taco Bell after midnight. No one worth a long conversation ever visited the restaurant before midnight, and all of the amoral people worth meeting just so happened to not have many other options for early morning dining."
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You can hardly get in trouble over that, any more than you could get into trouble for a character tossing out a half-eaten Big Mac because he couldn't stomach the grease. It's a reasonable opinion for a character to hold, and doesn't try to make any negative factual assertions about McDonald's.

    On the other hand, you portrayed Taco Bell as serving spoiled meat or chronically failing Health Depeaqrtment inspections, you could be asking for a lawsuit.
     
  13. taylor.kuykendall
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    taylor.kuykendall Member

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    Thanks for the clarification Cogito!
     
  14. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    Wow, can't believe I said that. I had the right thought in my head, but definitely said the wrong thing lol.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't we all, now and then!?!
     
  16. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    I think trademark laws have to do w/ whether the use of the name effects their business. Thus, promoting or bashing on micky d's being illegal w/o authorization, n whatnot.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sorry, but that's not quite right.

    Trademark law governs the use of names, images, catch phrases, or even colors that are tied to a specific product or company, in contexts that could confuse a consumer into thinking they are looking at a product from that company when they are not.

    For example, Mattel trademarked the color Barbie Pink, and doll accessory toys from other manufactures cannot make major use of a color that looks too close to that shade of pink. There is a similar trademark for IBM Blue governing the use of that shade of blue in manuals, packaging, and equipment panels for computer products. MacDonald's Golden Arches are similarly trademarked, so no fast food establisment can erect golden arches on their restaurant property to attract customers.

    However, outside of those contexts, you could use those colors and symbols. You could pain the inside walls of an ice cream shop Barbie Pink as long as there is no implicationn of a Barbie theme or endorsement. That is trademark law.

    Bashing on Mickey D is not a crime, either. It would be defamation, but that isn't a crime. It could lead to a civil action, but not a criminal one.
     
  18. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    The main character in my novel at several points during the story brings up his love for Mountain Dew. This is acceptable, correct?
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Of course. He can scarf down a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, wash it down with an A&W (with a splash of Makers Mark), then smoke a Marlboro as he drives out of town in his Camaro. And even chew on a couple Tums for his indigestion.
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depends. Does the resulting sugar rush directly cause your main character to go on a horrific crime spree? Then PepsiCo might get upset.
     
  21. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    I dunno, he isn't exactly a role model by any means, but I never blame that on his choice beverage.
     
  22. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This article about an author being sued by a French store that played a role in the mystery plot may shed some light on how far authors can 'safely' go with respect to mentioning/using actual stores, restaurants and other businesses in their fiction.

    Crime novelist sued for setting plot around Paris landmark

    Whether the fabric store will prevail in the lawsuit is another question. But, in any case, it will be a problem, at least temporarily, for the publisher and author.

    Terry
     
  23. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting article, Terry. It's easy to see why the fabric store was less than impressed by the novel, and surprising that the novelist or publisher was naive enough to go ahead without consulting them first...
    I wonder how much giving a 'the events and characters depicted are fictional etc' on the front page would have helped?
     
  24. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not a lawyer, but the store director seems confused about the basis for the lawsuit.
    Surely that's wrong? Doesn't the registered trademark just mean that nobody can use the trademark in the supply goods and/or services in such a way as to give the impression that the goods/services were supplied by the trademark holder? That doesn't seem to be the case here. Defamation, though, is another matter, and as you say it's hassle for the publisher and author either way.
     
  25. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd wager that this is French law (or mainland EU regulations, but I doubt it), or, as you say, they are simply confused. You can definitely mention businesses, the registered trademark has little to do with it. Think of how many authors that would be sued if every business did this.
     

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