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

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption