Asked in Intellectual Property

Q: Can I get sued for using generic terms?

I want to create a Sci-fi movie set in space.

I checked the USPTO and the word I want to use as a race name is trademark of 800 people if I am wrong the word is a generic term.

But can I be sued for using it?

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: I have taken the liberty to modify your question, which now reads: Can I successfully defend myself from being sued from using allegedly generic terms?

First, anyone can sue any other person or entity. It's the nature of having free access to the courts. Second, the cardinal rule in intellectual property is that if there is money to be made, there will be litigation, or the threat thereof. Thus, understanding that one may readily be sued, it was important to modify the question.

Generic terms, by themselves, do not signal or identify the maker of goods or the provider of services. If you, individually, are using terms that are (or have become) generic, then you should not expect to have liability for such use; this assumes that the terms are indeed generic. As a coda, intellectual property should almost always be owned by an entity.

As can be seen above, you would be well served by seeking counsel to help guide you in the process. There are many things to consider that a non-lawyer simply does not contemplate.

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