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I want to write a book called Confessions of a Lyft Driver. This book will be about that drivers sex life as he picks up women during his normal course of his Lyft driving. Would this be a violation of lyft which also has the trademark to that name? Or would be perfectly acceptable.

Or would I be better using a different title?

I am in the USA

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  • Will it be fiction or non-fiction? Jan 2 '18 at 17:33
  • Stop making abusive edits to posts. This is extremely rude to the users who have attempted to help you - if you don't appreciate their support, you are welcome to simply leave.
    – Nij
    Jul 11 '18 at 4:50
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This would not be a violation of the Lyft service mark because it is not being used to sell the services that the Lyft service mark applies to - i.e. transportation services.

If it is sold as non-fiction, or if is sold as fiction but is obviously, in fact, a real life account and not fiction, but leads a reader to believe that something that is not true is true in a reputation damaging way, Lyft would have a claim for defamation on the grounds that it harms its reputation based upon false statements of fact.

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    Can you elaborate on what constitutes your second category of works of defamation: a book sold as fiction that is "obviously, in fact, a real life account" and simultaneously "is not true"? Isnt that just regular fiction with some conspiracy theorist readers and not defamation? (I also assumed a typo "and not non-fiction" should be "and not fiction" because the statement made even less sense to me if it wasn't a typo)
    – Matt
    Jan 2 '18 at 23:12
  • Yes I am confused also. So it would depend on whether it us real or not. If it were simply fictional and I state that then there is no defamation. Or if it is a true account of actual happening it would still be defamation. So what would be the best way to present the book. Jan 3 '18 at 1:38
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    @Matt There was a typo. The point is that you can't escape defamation liability simply by stating that an actual account is fiction and changing only trivial details. There are a handful of cases where a nominally fictional account that is transparently based upon the lives of real people but is not true in important reputation influencing respects has given rise to defamation liability.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 3 '18 at 5:48
  • It would not be a violation even if it were in the same industry. Jan 4 '18 at 18:24
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    @Acccumulation You could not use "Lyft" to sell ride sharing services without infringing.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 4 '18 at 19:57
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This is a nominal use, so it is not a violation of trademark law. If you are sued and hire a competent lawyer, you should win the lawsuit. You will be out the money to hire the lawyer, however. Many people in this sort of situation avoid trademarks, or include disclaimers, out of an abundance of caution.

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Unless this is somehow tied to the Lyft Company (i.e. Based on a True Story with names changed to protect the innocent/guilty) I would make your company a homage/parody of Lyft. This also gets you some creative license to add Uber features. I recommend the company name of Ryde, which gives you the distinct spelling style so its obvious who you're talking about. I would change the title to be either "Sex Confessions of a Ryde Driver", "Sex Confessions of a Ryde-Share Driver", or "Sex Confessions of a Ride-Share Driver". In the last, the industry being satirized is obvious and you don't rely on people knowing your fictional company. The former preserves your title but relies on understanding the misspelled company name (you could stylize it a bit better) and the middle gives you a mix of both worlds (Ryde-Share could even be worked into the book in universe as the original name of the company before it rebranded itself as just "Ryde", sort of like Facebook used to be "The Facebook". Your character could have been with the company so long that he was there for the original name OR he is such a nerd for the company that he would know this bit of Trivia lost on the general public).

The real secret of how to avoid getting sued for defimation is how much money you make off this book... if you don't make any, Lyft isn't going to pay lawyers to shut you up... that will only make more people buy the book to see what all the fuss is about.

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  • @BruceWalker: From one (unpublished) fiction writer to another, I wish her the best of luck.
    – hszmv
    Jan 4 '18 at 17:19

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