Nearly every character in my books, somewhere along the line, eventually kicks back, slips on their Levis®, and slams back a few Cheetos®.
That practice may soon end if a new piece of legislature gets approved.
The long-reaching arm of this legislation will not only expose you to liability when you describe your characters (and their activities) in your fiction, but it will affect EVERY use of a trademarked term. Soon copywriters, article writers, nonfiction experts, and even poets will need to watch for these terms that have so thoroughly penetrated our communications. Even news commentators will need to watch what they say for fear of a lawsuit.
Here’s what the Author’s Guide says about this new development from their website http://www.authorsguild.org/news/threatens_free_expresion.htm :
Trademarks, including business names, brands, and slogans, are unavoidable and proliferating in daily life. Writers of fiction and nonfiction inevitably incorporate trademarks into their work, sometimes to comment on the particular business using the trademark, but frequently the use is merely incidental to the nonfiction or fiction writer’s story (“Tom went to a McDonald’s, had a Coke, and waited for the Harley to arrive.”).
Just as fair use provisions of copyright law permit writers to make certain uses of copyrighted works in their own works, so do fair use and related provisions of trademark law permit writers to use trademarks in their works. One of the important protections for writers using others’ trademarks is section 43(c)(4)(B) of the Lanham Act, which excludes noncommercial and news reporting uses from several types of liability under trademark law. The new law would weaken these protections, exposing writers to greater potential liability for their use of trademarks.
This would needlessly chill expression. The legitimate changes to the dilution provisions of trademark law can be made without changing the exclusions from liability contained in the current law.
Read more here: http://www.authorsguild.org/news/threatens_free_expresion.htm