Roswell, GA asked in Copyright and Trademark for Georgia

Q: Is it legal to use brand names in a book?

In a fictional book, what is the protocol for mentioning brand names? I'm referring to situations in which the particular company / brand is not being represented in a negative way, but only mentioned casually. For instance, can an author write a book in which their characters are eating "McDonald's", riding in an "Uber", talking on an "iPhone", etc., or does the author have to get consent from these companies beforehand?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta

A: Depends on the context, purpose and such.

You should consult with an attorney to understand your risks

best luck


Allison Higgins
Allison Higgins
  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Helotes, TX

A: First let's get the lawyer answer out of the answer: it depends. However, if you look at any book, you'll see brand names sprinkled throughout. There are several things to take into consideration such as how the name is used, how often, etc. It may be allowed under the fair use doctrine. Your best bet is to speak with an intellectual property attorney for an answer tailored to you specific situation. (We're only allowed to give general legal advice on this forum.)

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