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View Full Version : Can I use 'Tylenol'??



heatheringemar
08-07-2007, 02:25 AM
...in my current WIP?

One of my main characters wakes up feeling quite feverish and shambles into her bathroom for the bottle of Tylenol. And she references it by name. i.e. "Tylenol, I need Tylenol...."

Can I do this, legally, without citation? Or do I need citation? Would you suggest I write the company and ask them for permission to use their brand-name?

I know that supposedly you can use brand-names in books as long as you don't do it often, and this is the first time this has happened to me, but I guess I'm just a little paranoid.

Suggestions?

Novelust
08-07-2007, 02:46 AM
Totally falls under fair use; you're fine. (Otherwise the makers of Band-Aids and Kleenex would make a killing.)

Karen Junker
08-07-2007, 02:47 AM
I'm not the total expert on this, but it seems like the kind of thing an editor would take care of, during the final edits for the book. Any permissions would probably be requested by the publisher. If you already have an editor, maybe you could ask them.

Karen Junker
08-07-2007, 02:48 AM
Oh, and just another note: I read an article in a writing magazine somewhere that talked about brand names and having to use the little tm symbol if you use one...I don't know if that would apply to your question or not!

heatheringemar
08-07-2007, 02:55 AM
Cool, thanks guys!

blacbird
08-07-2007, 03:07 AM
Generally, brand names can be used as long as they are used appropriately, and not in a libelous fashion. Nobody worries about "Dad drove his old Ford into a ditch," or "We devoured an entire box of Cheerios." The use of trademarked names in a generic context, however, is frowned upon, as in "kleenex" used for generic tissue, or "xerox" used as a verb for photocopy.

I'd question whether you need to be so specific, however. Wouldn't "aspirin" do just fine? In general, unless there's a story-related use to a brand name, most of the time I'd recommend avoiding them.

As an aside, "aspirin" used to be a trademarked name, back in the early 20th Century. It lost its trademark status at least in part due to the prevalence of its use as a generic name for pain-reliever.

caw

maestrowork
08-07-2007, 03:18 AM
Oh, and just another note: I read an article in a writing magazine somewhere that talked about brand names and having to use the little tm symbol if you use one...I don't know if that would apply to your question or not!

This is not needed in fiction. Writers use brand names all the time.

Karen Junker
08-07-2007, 04:02 AM
This is not needed in fiction. Writers use brand names all the time.

Good to know! I know I've read romances where they mentioned McDonald's, Walmart, Oprah and about a dozen other brand names without using any trademark symbols.

maestrowork
08-07-2007, 04:50 AM
As long as you don't do anything libelous like: "He drank the Coca Cola and dropped dead immediately. The Coke company put poisons in their products!" or "Frito-Lays are made of people!"