Monday, November 11, 2013

More on litigation

My post yesterday generated a few interesting responses! Although I was writing about fear of litigation in respect of authors of fiction, it could equally apply to blog writers.  Jaq points out that when mentioning product names I could use one of those little trademark symbols, you know, a little circle with an R in it.  Well, as I can’t find one of those on my keyboard or in the bit of software I am using to write this, I shall just have to refrain from mentioning such products.  In any case I refuse to sully my deathless prose with such symbols.  I have gone back to chapter one of my book and changed a tube of ( those little chocolate button shaped sweets with coloured sugar coatings) into a packet of wine gums.  My book is all the poorer for it.  My bigger worry is what to do about the car that my hero drives, as it features prominently in the text and it is old and falling to bits.  The company that built it cannot sue me as they no longer exist, but in case someone still owns the rights or whatever, I have decided that our hero has christened it Doris in a moment of poetic inspiration. A Minor change if you get my meaning.

I’m off now to do some hoovering vacuum cleaning.

PS I passed the 50,000 word barrier this morning

PPS A rare political rant:

I just heard on the news that David Cameron has added another 4 million quid to the six million already promised to the Philippines.  I calculate that that makes a total of a measly 16.6 p from each person in Britain. Come on we can do better than that. I mean I know we think we are hard up, but really, couldn’t we spare 50p or a quid each for those poor folks out there.


Adam said...

At work, our style guide suggests avoiding trade names where possible. Some companies are more worried about it others: Portakabin, for example, objects strongly if their trade name is used for a portakabin which isn't an actual Portakabin; and you have to be very careful talking about an outward bound course, in case it isn't actually organised by Outward Bound.

I think Jaq's suggestion of the R symbol might be an American thing. Newspapers here are littered with trade names, and they don't bother with it.

Of course when you get yourself a publisher (and surely that's a when and not an if), you'll get an editor who will be completely au fait with what it and isn't allowed, and will be able to advise you.

Sarah said...

I think you're worrying about nothing - if you really are worrying. Have you ever heard of the author of a novel being sued in the UK? And most novels are littered with real place and product names. Ones that try to avoid them lack verisimilitude and are poorer for it. Give your character back their Smarties (gosh, I hope they weren't M&Ms). As long as you are not actually defaming them (i.e. saying things which are untrue, which you know to be untrue, and which could damage them or their reputation) then they can't sue you. The fact that it's a work of fiction probably puts you on even safer ground. If you are planning to use a publisher, then they will worry about such things on your behalf. If you're self publishing, there must be sources of advice out there. With a short print run, print on demand or electronic publication, you can easily change something if, say, a particularly tetchy manufacturer objects to the use of a trademarked name (but as Adam says, this is only valid when it's used incorrectly, and applies more to non-fiction. Don't compromise the authenticity of your work on the basis of a few vague worries.

Halfie said...

Please don't lose actual car makes/models from the script. Fawlty Towers, with its famous car-thrashing scene, was even funnier for me as I had owned several 1100s - and I knew exactly how Basil felt! Keep the Morris Minor; keep the authenticity.

(My offer to proof read stands - no charge)

Val Poore said...

I agree with all the comments here, Neil. The publishers have never suggested I change the names of cars or even shops in my books. The only permission I have sought was to use the name of Wwoof in my novel as I have a character in there who is not the best representative of Wwoof in the world, but they told me as long as I didn't say anything negative about the organisation itself, they were happy for me to use their name.

nb Rea said...

May I reiterate your plea for help for The Philippines. They desperately need help now and in the future to restore their lives.

re litigation: Publish and be Damned