Can I name a fictional country after a bussiness?

CallMeKerrigan

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There's a company in my state and their name sounds like a fantasy city. It's not an actual word, though. Would I get in any legal trouble if I named the country in my game the same name as their business? I know I can come up with millions of other names but it just feels right.
 

watermark

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Technically, yes.

Practically, I wouldn't worry about it. Freedom of creativity, yeah!

See, it all comes down to whether they could and/or would sue you. Obviously, if they are a big brand name it would be a bad idea (Once upon a time, in the country of Google, there lived in the town of Nintendo a man named Firaxis...).

But if they are not that important, and your game is free with no intention of going big commercially nobody is going to bother. Of course, if you do make it big, you can always change the name then.

Do note I am not a lawyer and this is not official legal advice.
 

Jonforum

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no, you can name country apple.
this will no ref the apple compagny.
The patent of the name, are powder in the eyes.
Words have always existed and have many meanings
 

cabfe

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Try to name something Coca-Cola or Disney and see for yourself if it's allowed...
(Hint: you'll get sued if they hear about it).

So, no. Stay away from that kind of trouble, as much as possible :headshake:
 

Poryg

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However, you can always twist the name to pull through. This is kind of my naming techniques, naming heroes after their characteristics. So for example I used Odin as a switcharound for word Indo or independent in other words. However, had Odin been copyrighted, I would go with Oddrin. When I used Kofola in one of my games, I referred to is as a fookolla and made a Kofola reference.
 

Andar

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Sometimes I consider it funny how many people don't care about something being illegal or not, and sprouting nonsense about it...

@KerriganSaila the answer to your question depends on something you didn't tell (and probably haven't researched yet).
You need to check your countries trademark database if that company name has been trademarked (nationally or internationally).

If it isn't trademarked, then you can use it, especially if it is in an entirely different context and can't be confused with that company in a business sense (you can still get into problems if your game has a theme that goes against that company business however unless it's a parody).

If it is trademarked, the only way for you to use it without risk is if you follow the fair-use-laws, which basically means you can only use it if your game is a parody about the company, or of the business segment of the company or so on.

@Jonforum your example with apple only works because the word apple has a general use outside the trademark of the computer company and that had prevented that company from completely claiming the trademark on it. You would get into trouble calling something in the computer area with the name apple however, because in that area Apple has the trademark rights for that word.

And that is also why the other poster is right with their examples of you getting sued for using names like Coca-Cola where the trademark is without execptions because it has no other use.
 

VideoWizard

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Apple, sure, since apples can be used outside of the computer context. You might be able to get away with coke, and certainly should have no problem with cola. (Ocracoke, Apalachicola, Pensacola are all real places) Disney, I wouldn't try it. Nintendo, no. And I doubt I'd want to see a place called Taco Bell Island in a game, anyway.
 

CallMeKerrigan

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@VideoWizard that's funny, because when I was thinking about posting this question I was trying to think of other examples in which a similar rule would apply and Taco Bell was the first thing I came up with lol. But it was a harder comparison because naming a nation 'Taco Bell' seems more like a parody, so it was harder to find a good comparison. But Disney was a good way to compare it.

@Andar Thank you I didn't think of seeing if it was trademarked. But I can probably just switch one letter in the name or something and it will still sound familiar.
 

XIIIthHarbinger

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I would say that it depends greatly upon the nature of the name in question.

Names involving things like rivers, oaks, hills, etcetera you can probably find all manner of overlap between various companies, towns, products, etcetera. Unique names on the other hand are another matter entirely.

For example, you can probably find a dozen towns called two rivers throughout the world, but you can probably also find a company or two using the moniker, maybe a product or two, a few housing developments, perhaps a pub or two, etcetera. & that's assuming you just stick with English. If you extend your search into other languages the numbers would probably increase dramatically.

On the other hand, you aren't likely to find many things with the name Nike, that aren't directly tied to Nike.

Simply put, in many respects it's a matter branding & the uniqueness of the branding. & even unique branding can be remarkably common, for example, just do an internet search for Camelot & see just how many companies, products, etcetera use the word in their names.
 

Mr. Detective

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If you use any of those trademarked names in a commercial product, then you would be asking for troubles. However, if you use it for a parody, or a non-profit game, then it shouldn't be an issue. Theoretically they can sue you, for sure. But can you imagine the backlash at how foolish they would make themselves look for suing a small time fry like you for using their name in an indie game? :eek:

I'm no legal expert. But I am sure no one is going to knock on your door just because you name a town in your video game "Nintendo" or "Coca-cola". :rolleyes:
 

Grunwave

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Kerrigan:

What is the name? It would only be protected for usage if it were registered with the DC trademark office (I assume you are in US).

If it is some local mom and pop store, it is probably not trademarked.

That is the first consideration for words/phrases.

The other consideration would only be if you were going to use the name as the name of your DBA. In this case it is by state, and the name would be registered with the 'Division of Corporations' or Secretary of State.

I practice law in Florida, so here is an example of such a place to check this: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/ByName


I know some states (Florida included) have special free speech exceptions. THIS IS BY STATE LAW and so far not pre-empted by Federal Law. For instance in Florida I can name my Business Mighty Mouse Pizza as long as the name is available.


As far as using strictly a business name in a virtual setting, it will be legal 99 % of the time, due to 1st Amendment rights.


There are other exceptions for parodies. I am sure you have seen Star Wars parodies:

GEA


PS: if you want additional info provide your State of Residence/Business and the Name of the Business
 

CallMeKerrigan

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It's called Alorica. I just changed it to Elorica to avoid any trouble.
 

Grunwave

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https://trademarks.justia.com/868/79/alorica-86879242.html

They are a multi-national with a registered trademarked name.

If you live in the US, the state you live in might affect this, or the country you are in might.

Otherwise you have to rely on 1st Amendment. Parody is the right you would invoke. If you just use the name: I (internet-random attorney) think you are fine. However if you emulate multiple facilities of their enterprise, you are probably facing an issue.

Unless of course you are being hilarious while doing so..... Then you get back to 1st Amendment Protections.
 

Sharm

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First amendment and parody and fair use are very unlikely to apply here. If you could just cry first amendment protections anytime you violated trademark law, the entire thing would be useless, and fair use and parody are extremely limited in what they allow.
 

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