Q: What are guide questions to see whether a fictional character is too similar to another real or fictional character

I have characters with varying levels of similarity to other people. I’d like a rule/s to go by in case I make more, as well. I believe Tradmark and Copyright come into play, but there may be more.

1 Lawyer Answer
Robert Kost
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  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Pittsburgh, PA

A: It will be impossible to answer your question without specifics. In copyright, there would be two issues: 1) whether the character(s) you are copying are copyrightable (this will depend on how well delineated the character is and how central to the story they are) and 2) whether your characters are "substantially similar" to them, as viewed by an ordinary observer.

But if you are copying real people, there are other issues having to do with your appropriation of their likeness and their right to publicity.

Trademark is not likely at issue here, because it doesn't sound as though you are attempting to mimic another's brand.

I hope this helps.

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