Is using Character names for my own products illegal?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is using Character names for my own products illegal?

I am looking at starting a handmade soap business and was wondering if I make a piece inspired by a character or item, can I name it after that character or object? For example, 1 If I were to make a soap based on the DragonBalls from Dragonball Z, can I call them Dragonball Soap? Or if I were to make a soap based only on the color of a pokemon let’s

say Pikachu, and add a lightning bolt tail, can I name the soap Pikachu Soap? Finally, if I were to make a soap that looks like a Starbucks drink, can I use the name of the drink for that soap?

Asked on August 11, 2018 under Business Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, this would be very illegal. You would be violating the copyright and also trademark on those characters: 
1) Only the creator of a graphic work (e.g. a character) owns the rights to use, adopt, publish, etc. it.
2) Any commercially valuable character will also be trademarked, and similarly, only the owner of the trademark has the right to use, adapt, etc. it.
If you do this and the companies owning the rights become aware of you, you could be sued for a great deal of money.

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.

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