1. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    Using a Trademark as a noun or verb

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Renee J, Aug 1, 2014.

    If trademarks are misused they can be turned generic, like aspirin or thermos. So, companies that own them make sure they are used only as adjectives: a Kleenex facial tissue, not a Kleenex. But, in everyday life, people use Kleenexes, Xerox copies, and so forth. Do writers ever get in trouble for misusing a trademark as a noun or verb in fiction? I've heard companies will go after media that don't follow these standards. It seems unnatural to have a kid ask another kid if they want to play Legos plastic toy bricks instead of just Legos.
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I'll slip in here before the 'talk to a trademark attorney' folks arrive and say that I would think that capitalizing the word (Legos, not legos) would be enough. That said, I've never understood the current common practice of using brand names in fiction. I've never done so in anything I've written.
     
  3. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I usually use the generic terms, but kids say Legos, not small, plastic brick toys, and I got stuck.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It's fine as long as you don't use the term generically. So when you say Kleenex, you should be referring to actual Kleenex brand tissues and not some generic brand of tissues. Basically, don't do what people do in real life. For a more generic term, use "facial tissue" instead or come up with a fictional company.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I'm not a lawyer, it appears to me that as long as you're not pretending to be the holder of the trademark, the trademark holder has limited power in this case. So, for example, they could probably stomp you if you named your book "The Kleenex Chronicles", but my general impression is that if people are running around using "kleenexes" all through your book, and you're not saying actionably untrue and malicious things about the kleenexes, all they can do is beg you to change that.

    Again, not a lawyer. Could be wrong.
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Google it...
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This issue was addressed in one of the articles I recently read on writing description:

    http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/description.shtml

    Fair Use of Trademarks
     
  8. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't play with you any more, if you said:

    "Let's play legos,"

    I would cry out and call my mother.

    "Mummy, it's the freak Canadian boy again. He's talking funny stuff."

    "'What!"

    Then she would stamp on your spectacles, and maybe rip your national dress costume.

    "Lego," she would say. "Pass the sticklebricks...grubby little child."
     
  9. Nothingness
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    Nothingness Active Member

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    Well... the internet always says that Legos provide the most painful of experiences when they are stepped upon and, to my knowlodge, no one has yet been sued for slander...

    But of course, that's the internet :p
     
  10. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Actually the plural of LEGO is LEGO.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2014
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Playmobile is better
     
  13. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    This glossary for the forums clears it up, but I'll quote it here

     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm a Playmobile fan too. :)
     
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  15. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I had some Playmobile sets that I was always frustrated with, because the most you could do with any of them is put weapons in their hands and pop their hair off to add beards.

    What I'm saying is that Playmoble would be better if they were LEGO.
     
  16. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is my experience that children who construct perfect working mechanical lego watermills are not to be trusted.
     
  17. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Actually, the plural of 'mouse' is 'mice', but I prefer 'meeses'.

    We didn't have LEGO when I was a lad, so we had to make do with Lincoln Log and Tinker Toy.
     

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