Madison, WI asked in Copyright and Intellectual Property for Wisconsin

Q: When can the "name" of a character be protected under copyright law, even though it typically wouldn't?

Copyright itself doesn't protect only just a name, you can't copyright just a name at all. But, "characters" should be protected under a copyright if they are unique, but isn't a name an intrinsic part of a character and its accompanying story?

1 Lawyer Answer

Bryan Thomas Kroes

Answered
  • Wauwatosa, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: A full answer to your question will require a more fact-intensive analysis. Generally, copyright law will afford protection of the fictional character itself when it has appeared in a copyrightable work and has a life of its own within that work, however, achieving a level of distinctiveness such that the character can be copyrighted can be tricky. Depending on distinctiveness, you could also explore trademark of the name. You may want to consider contacting an experienced attorney to explore these details and options further.

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