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View Full Version : Pantomimes and Trademarks, where to draw the line?



H.Reilly
07-24-2011, 08:01 PM
Hi Everyone,
I'm new here (relatively, though I've been reading all of your wonderful advice for a while), and I have a burning question that I haven't found an answer to in reading threads about copyright and trademarks etc.


I originally joined this site as I am trying to find an agent/publisher for my first novel. However, I am now finding myself in the process of having my script for a pantomime read by a couple of agents (quite unexpectedly) instead.

In it, my co-writer and I have made mention about some products or have used actors to portray say a McDonald's employee selling big macs. I know that in a pantomime, we are given a certain amount of leeway on trademarks and copyright that would not be allowed in other forms of writing. My question is where is the line drawn?

I know that Disney is totally off limits, but for example talking about krispy kreme donoughts or using a sign on a cow that says eat mor chikin, are those things allowed?

Just wondering where the imaginary line is drawn. I don't want to infringe on anyone else's property. We originally wrote it for our school (I'm a music teacher as well as a novelist), and we didn't expect to get any notice for it.

*diving into the well of knowlege that is the water cooler*

veinglory
07-24-2011, 08:05 PM
I think you need to go to a lawyer for bottom line legal advice. But it seems to me that pantomime would fall largely into the parody form of "fair use"? The question is probably more who would sue you anyway and so should be avoided as it isn't worth the trouble.

IceCreamEmpress
07-24-2011, 10:29 PM
I know that in a pantomime, we are given a certain amount of leeway on trademarks and copyright that would not be allowed in other forms of writing. My question is where is the line drawn?

There is no bright line. If your pantomime receives professional publication or production, the publisher or producer will vet it and ask you and your co-author to rewrite anything they think is a potential infringement or violation.

Writers need to be aware of intellectual property laws so that they understand what projects will never earn them a dime (fan fiction of works still in copyright), and so that their self-published work doesn't open themselves to lawsuits. Once you're in the professional arena, other people have the final say on what they feel is and isn't a potential infringement, so let them make the calls.

H.Reilly
08-10-2011, 12:22 AM
Thanks so much guys, it's food for thought. Does anyone know if there's anything wrong with simply mentioning a product name like "pass me a kleenex?" or if that kind of thing is also a trademark issue?

IceCreamEmpress
08-10-2011, 12:28 AM
That's fine. The reason people trademark product names is so that competitors can't copy them, not so other people can't mention them.