Brand names and product names in interactive fiction?

Hello, newbie here.

I’m just getting my feet wet, writing my first Choicescript game. It’s set in a fictional version of the US, in the very near future, and I’m wondering if brand names and product names (like “7 Eleven”, “Starbucks”, “Pepsi”, “Marlboro”, “Nike” etc) are acceptable. Should I use more generic terms (like “convenience store”, “coffee shop”, “soda”, “cigarettes”, “sneakers”) instead, or maybe even change the brand names to something similar sounding (or invent new ones entirely)?

Are there any legal reasons not to use brand names? If not, would it feel like I’m promoting these brands/products to the reader if I do include them?

I’m thinking particularly of my characters’ dialogues here, I don’t see myself using brand names in descriptions.

Thanks for your thoughts.


I think it depends how you use them, for example: she put the glass of coke to her lips and drank it slowly, thinking" that I think is a example of how you can use it. The other is: “he said happily ‘coke is the best drink ever!’ As she slowly put the glass of coke to her lips” that’s a promoting example.
So it depends.

even the promoting depends on the scene, and how you do it.

I have done a little research into this, but by no means an expert and this is not legal advice. It is far better to avoid using real product names as it can cause you a problem should the owners think your story puts a bad slant on their product.

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Just go the Japanese anime version. Koka Kola. Prof. Salt. ZBOX 780. It’s hilarious.


Actually there is a good article that helps define what you can and cannot do should you really feel the product name needs to be mentioned.


Thanks for the link, Lordirish, that’s really helpful! Brand names are a pretty easy thing to avoid, or at least alter, so I might just do that.

That’s exactly what I was thinking.