According to the personal account of one of the founders of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, he waited hours outside the gates of Paramount Studios to license the name "Bubba Gump Shrimp" (which first appeared and was popularized by the film Forrest Gump) to use with his shrimp business, hoping to capitalize on the fact that millions of people would be familiar with the name thanks to the movie.

This raises the question; is a fictional business name used inside a movie or TV show automatically copyrighted? If a popular TV show features a fictional business, can I open a business just like it in real life - with the same name and in the same industry?


It’s not copyrighted but it is trademarked

Names of businesses generally do not have copyright protection because they usually lack the necessary element of creativity required for a literary work. Either they are a name (e.g. Ford), a common word (e.g. Apple) or are purely descriptive (e.g. International Business Machines - IBM).

However, they do have trademark protection. This is true whether the business is real or fictional.

Now, trademarks can lapse if they are not used so if the BGSC has not been created until now, the movie studio would have a hard time claiming trademark, however, at the time there was clearly a trademark.

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