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Laura Ashley is a UK furniture and fashion company named after its founder. But there probably are plenty of people named Laura Ashley.

Some years ago, I was considering giving the name "Laura Ashley" to one of my fictitious heroines because I liked the name. (Unlike my completed works, this one went for about three pages.) The heroine was an ambitious mid-level biotech executive trying to make it to the top. (The field is nothing like furniture.) A friend of mine told me to "expect to hear from Laura Ashley's lawyers" if I published the novel.

The answer to this question showed that a company cannot (normally) prevent someone from using their own real name in a different (non-confusing) line of business. Does this "protection" apply to my fictitious character as well? Or can the similarity of names somehow be held to damage the company's repuation? (My heroine acts "normally," and does nothing out of the ordinary.)

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You are probably not infringing their trademark.

If they sue you, after you have spent tens of thousands defending yourself you will probably win. You may win costs which means you will get some of your money back. You do have a bigger legal budget than Laura Ashley, right?

  • That's why it would not have been my "first" novel. But if I were a successful novelist, I might just do this, on first amendment grounds. And Sharon Corrs'' company benefited from beating Adolph Coors. – Libra Sep 10 '17 at 8:41

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