What is the legality of naming a product or service after a fictional name, object or character from a book or other creative material (movie, video game, etc)?

In each of these examples below, the question is: If the owners of the trademark were to pursue charges for trademark infringement, would their allegations stand in court?

  1. Star Trek has trademarked Q. Q is a fictional character in the Star Trek world, a sort of demi-God. Could we publish a children's "ABC"-type book entitled "Q"?

  2. Deadlock (an old school favorite PC game of mine,) contains a fictional resource called Triidium. As far as I am aware, it has not been trademarked. Could we publish a programming BLOG under this name?

  3. Starcraft (another video game,) units of a particular class say the word "Aiur" (pronounced "Ire"), which I assume is their home world or something. :) Could I create line of hair Gel named Aiur?

1 Answer 1


In all three cases, probavly one coulud do this under US copyright law.

One could probably not use "Q" for the name of a different high-powered alien being, but its use as a letter of the alphabet would no be protected.

I don't know what sort of thing "Triidium" was in the game, but unless the blog could be cofused with t, or it was soem sort of programmign advice, any trademark on the in-game resource even if one existed, would not apply to such a blog.

You might not be able to use "Aiur" as the name of an alien world or species, but a hair gel is a rather different thing.

In general, a trademark protects the use of the term only within the area in which it is being used in commerce. You can't make a compute called "Apple" but you can surely sell "apple pie" or even "Apple" race cars.

However, that is a very general answer. If you are planing to use such a name for a product, consult a lawyer with trademark experience in your jurisdiction.

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