1. Lolani
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    Lolani Member

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    Brand-name question.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lolani, Sep 21, 2008.

    I have a few brand-names that I want to place in my novel (I'm aware that I'll probably have to pay some sort of royalties) but I am unsure of how to format it.

    Say... I was going to use... the new 2008 Saturn Vue or a shop like Mrs. Fields.

    Would I put it in italics? (E.G. Saturn Vue and Mrs. Fields)

    And, for the numbers. Would I spell out 2008 or use it in numbers?

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    Hmm, I don't claim to know for sure but I think you can mention specific things like that without having to pay anyone anything. I see references to brand names in things I read all the time and I find it hard to believe that in every case someone got payed to allow it to happen.
     
  3. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    As far as what is the correct way to mention those things in your text I don't think it really matters. There are no rules in fiction and different authors do things in different ways. All one has to do is flip through an anthology to see how different authors go about similar tasks in very different ways.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't even name the year. I'm guessing you feel that the car has to be brand new. Since you never know when the story will be published, naming the year would either date the work or make the car not brand new.
     
  5. Wickerman1972
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    Wickerman1972 Member

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    That's a good point and I don't know why I didn't think to say it, ha ha. With what I'm working on right now I decided from the beginning to not make any references to date, current events, etc. Ya' just never know how long it might be before you finish it or before it finds an audience.
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I'm fairly certain you don't have to pay royalties just to mention a brand name in your writing. Just make certain not to write something libelous.

    You don't italicize brand names. Italics are for movie, TV show, album, and book titles, whereas quotes are for TV episode, song, and short story/chapter titles. Brand names for the most part use neither technique unless italics or quotes are actually part of the brand name. (I can think of no examples of this myself.)

    Numbers vary. Go with the way the manufacturer spells it. I really doubt Saturn calls their car the Two Thousand Eight Saturn Vue. 2008 is fine.

    Oh. And don't turn a brand name into a generic. Brand names are usually adjectives, followed by a generic noun. You don't just say Mrs. Fields, you say Mrs. Fields cookies (italics mine). It's not just Velcro, it's Velcro fastener. It's not Rollerblades--it's Rollerblade inline skates. It's not Kleenex--it's Kleenex tissues. Xerox is not a verb--you either photocopy or make copies on a Xerox photocopier. Etc.

    You probably won't have to pay royalties, but if you genericize a trademark, you're looking for trouble.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...not true... see what's what here: www.uspto.gov

    no... just in normal font, no tricks... but don't forget the apostrophe in the latter!... you only have to make sure you write the brand name/info correctly...
    no... you should have a strunk & white, the writer's bible... you'll find the rules for numerals there on pg 35...
     
  8. TheAdlerian
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    TheAdlerian Senior Member

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    It's my impression that in a creative work you can use brand names without payment.

    In the US there's The Foodnetwork, and I learned something interesting from them. They put fake labels on food products they use---because they demand payment---not the other way around.

    So, if Chef Smith uses Boingo Beans in his Chili, he expects Boingo to pay him for featuring their product on his show. He's doing a commercial for them. If not, then he puts white paper over the label.

    I'd like to know the real facts on all of this because I use the name of real products too.
     
  9. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    TheAdlerian, that is the basic idea, but a bit more complex.

    Food Network has direct sponsors, each show has their own sponsors as well and these sponsors demand that any product that is not theirs that the labels be changed as if they do not then they are running free ads for people who are not their sponsors.

    There are exceptions to this rule as well, for shows like Unwrapped or Rachel Ray's Tasty Travels, etc. but those are special cases and there are many deals involved in this.

    It is a complex issue of rights, payments and who gets to say what about who, driven mainly by who is paying for what. This means the person paying for the show to happen gets the say in what is in the show.

    If you are sponsored by Foot Locker then for the most part your show does not (or is not allowed to) mention any other competitors of Foot Locker.

    Consumer Reports requests permission from the people they review, Garbage Pal Kids never paid a cent to any of the companies they parodied, Mad did not pay either, mainly because of the Fair use laws in effect. I strongly suggest reading the FAQ, most other countries carry with them the same rules and laws regarding copyright. But this also might be helpful.

    Hope this helps.
     

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