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We are a small company developing a product we want to name after a character named "Arwen" from "Lord of the rings".

The product itself has no connection whatsoever with the actual character, we're just "fans" and think it sounds nice. Our second product is a piece of software we want to name after a combat spaceship from the video game called "Star Fox", due the same previous reasons and the fact than they kind of sound alike.

Can we get into trouble because of this? I've been reading there should be no problems if it isn't a "derivative work" and the characters are not main ones so the original work is branded after them (such as "Harry Potter").

Is this true?

  • Do the answers to this question answer yours? – feetwet Nov 6 '15 at 1:57
  • I wish they did @feetwet But I still have the doubt since I feel none of the answers were based on actual laws.. Just curious cases. – Areks Nov 6 '15 at 2:31
  • In common law countries, the decisions made in cases are law unless/until contradicted by a statute or later decision. See law.stackexchange.com/a/4178/58 for a brief overview. – jimsug Nov 6 '15 at 2:41
  • Thanks for the clarification @jimsug but it still does not really answer my question because I'm using a character name that is "prominent enough" in the original work. And I don't have written permission (as the ones who started the company named after the forrest gump movie did)... – Areks Nov 6 '15 at 2:44
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Copyright is not an issue; trademark is. Arwen is quite likely a trademark of Tolkien Enterprises, registered or not.

Your proposed use which is to specifically involve the allure of the brand would breach the trademark.

  • It completely isn't. In fact, we're trying to name it this way because it's most likely the final customers won't even know where the names come from. The product is also not intended for masses of people nor is related in any way with the original works. It's a device intended for local businesses. Would the trademark breach still exists? – Areks Nov 6 '15 at 2:35
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    Put it this way: if you got a cease and desist notice would you comply or insist they take you to court? That is, if this is just an aesthetic choice then why take the risk? If its not an aesthetic choice then its a breach of trademark. – Dale M Nov 6 '15 at 2:51
  • It is completely aesthetic... and I agree we shouldn't take the risk. We don't even have the money to defend ourselves in court. Thank you for putting me in perspective! – Areks Nov 6 '15 at 3:12

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