Can you use the name of a business in a novel without permission?

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Can you use the name of a business in a novel without permission?

I am writing a novel and want to use the names of some establishments in the city in which the story is located to add realism. Am I free to do that or must I change the to a fictional names?

Asked on October 11, 2018 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are not allowed to use a business's name for your own--every very small--commercial benefit without their permission. If the name is trademarked, as many are, you could be violating their intellectual property rights, too. And if there is anything even potentially negative  about the business or in your book (and so potentially associated with a business named therein), you might get some business owner trying to sue for defamation. Best to simply use made up names that everyone with any connecton to the city will recognize as to inspiration--for people not familiar with the city, it does not matter.


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