Copyright/trademark question

I’ve been looking around but I couldn’t find anything on this that’s already been asked.

So, I’m writing a slice of life kinda game, set on our earth in our reality, meaning brands and stuff will be the same. Do you all know if there are any rules for mentioning brands in a game — like real car models and clothes brands. Would I have to research every single brand to find out what they allow? Thanks


This thread may be useful: Difference between CoG and HG games in terms of using brand names?

Also this one: Brand names and product names in interactive fiction? - #5 by Laguz


I’m not a lawyer, but from what I’ve seen, go nuts, as long as you’re not misrepresenting the product (which could be seen as slander or false advertising). So no “wow, Coca Cola gave me superpowers!” or “wow, Coca Cola poisoned my dad!” but otherwise I think you’re fine.

Night Road, for example, was written in a cyberpunk style, heavily featuring real-life brand names as important parts of the characters’ identities (the car you drive, the watch you wear, the weapon you carry, etc.)

As far as I know, no one’s been C&D’d or sued yet. Pretty sure it all falls within fair use.

ETA: I’m pretty sure video games avoid any trademarks because they want to get promotional deals for it, or they might have cautious legal teams advising against it in case a brand wants to try their luck in court. Shooters might need to avoid naming the guns for similar simulation-reasons. But I don’t think any of these would apply to our text-based IF.


Ah thank you. Just to understand it right, I can’t say anything subjective about a brand at all? E.g. “That Toyota is a helluva ride.”
I get to just mention a character’s car in passing?

I remember a scene in Mind Blind where K’s car is mentioned — a mustang something, mc seems pretty appreciative of it — so I guess some typa opinion about a brand is allowed, no?

Pretty much. You might be able to talk about the very specific car, like “he drives a 2008 toyota camry with a scar-like dent down the length of the passenger side and which wheezes like a dying llama every time he starts it up.”

I think you can even have characters give opinions on it, like “he drives a camry? Ew, no thanks.”

But you probably shouldn’t say that all camry’s are wheezing death traps that make you unattractive (unless you’re prepared to back that claim up in court).


Aye, thanks for clearing it up for me. I’ll make sure I don’t shit talk any :))

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I mentioned quite a few brand names in The Gray Painter and no one cared.