I need your help once again. I know that most of you are not lawyers, but I will appreciate any suggestions.
The picture above is the cover of something I am working on. It is a sci-fi/fantasy romance and the main characters are named Alexius and Alärielle.
Here’s the problem. Turns out there is a character named Alarielle the Everqueen in Warhammer Fantasy. But as you can see, my Alärielle doesn’t look anything like Alarielle the Everqueen except for the elven ears.
However, do you think I should still change her name?
I could possibly pick a different name, but truth be told, I have gotten very attached to the name Alärielle.
I am not a lawyer, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but companies can almost never trademark the names of characters unless they’re like Harry Potter—for example, I don’t think the name Aragorn is trademarked or could be, but the character of Aragorn and his recognizable “Aragorn” features—part-Elven secret king, etc. etc.—could be.
Long story short, I think your character sharing the name of another character is fine so long as they don’t share too many physical similarities or story similarities. Plenty of characters share names across fictional universes—there are lots of Hermiones and Alistairs and Jims—so it’s pretty hard to avoid sharing names with anyone.
However, if this Warhammer character is very prominent (I don’t play so I’ve never heard of her), I would consider either tweaking the letters in your character’s name to be slightly different from hers, if you’re really concerned about people confusing them or drawing comparisons. But from my viewpoint, I’d say you’re fine and you wouldn’t have to change it unless the name is copyrighted (which I really doubt!)
It may be helpful to look up trademarks (in the US) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website, or (the UK’s) Intellectual Property Office’s database. (Games Workshop, the copyright holders for Warhammer, are based in the UK, so the second site is probably more relevant to your query.)
That said, Alarielle is a fairly unique name, diacritical mark notwithstanding. Were I in your shoes I’d feel more comfortable changing it. (I have been in those shoes before, actually, with several stories gathering dust on my hard drive.) Not for a legal reason, necessarily–but I just hate sharing cool character names with other established works.
Warhammer 40k universe rarely features named character, and when they do, they’re not necessarily a core feature of the gameplay loop itself: a TTRPG featuring miniature armies pitted against another miniature armies against miniature armies against… a good 'ol IRL real-time-strategy games, in a way.
In other words, you should be fine using Alärielle as your MC.