My question concerns using names in fiction that happen to be the same as copyrighted or trademarked names. I've developed a large fictional world for my writing, with hundreds of names of people, societies, countries, groups, religions, gods, etc. How worried should I be that one of these names happens to be the same name used in another novel, game, or movie? As one example: I call the people who do witchcraft in my world "witchers." I have just learned that there is a book series and now a videogame called "The Witcher" (which is trademarked). I can find many pages describing restrictions on using copyrighted or trademarked names and images when doing fan art or fan fiction, or on using names like Burger King and Reebok when your characters use those products. But I can't tell how these laws apply to what I'm doing – using the same name, but a distinctly different idea.

I have no idea how many other names I use in my stories are also affected; if I do have to look up each one of them, what specifically should I be looking for?

2 Answers 2


I am not a lawyer. Copyright would not apply as that protects a work or part there of not a name. Trademark is what you should be considering. Trademarks are not absolute, they are only protected against people trying to use them to make use of their other use. If your witchers are different to those featured in the game and don't use the name in marketing (e.g. Calling the book "the witcher ") then you should be ok. The argument you would need to be confident to argue is that an independent idiot wouldn't confuse them. Either that or that it is a general term (in this case I don't think it is)

  • 1
    Thanks, I think I can make a good argument that independent idiots wouldn't confuse the two.
    – Joy Pixley
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 2:04

Names can only be trademarks as I know. :)

I found this page and read it, it looks promising: http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2010/12/can-i-mention-brand-name-products-in-my.html

You need the 7th paragraph of the text.

And as well I understand, you can use it, but carefully; you should invent a fictional name being similar to the original but not the exact same. For instance not Coca Cola but Loka Cola. Or not Witchers but Wotchers, Watchers, Tviggers...

I'm not sure I think it well, but maybe.

( Sorry if I made language mistakes. )

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    Are you sure this applies? I'm not actually referring to a brand name product, or any product. I'm using the term witchers (lower case) to refer to people who do witchcraft. So I can't just change the name; it wouldn't make sense. Or put into a larger context, if someone trademarked Black Tigers cologne, would that mean that no author could call the bad guys in their novel the Black Tigers?
    – Joy Pixley
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 2:24

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