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Copyright in Book Titles

Crumbly Writer

I've got a new story concept (as yet, I have no idea whether I'll write it or not). It involves an investigation into the complications behind a new ED drug (the misuse of said drug). My problem is with the proposed title. Right now, I'm thinking "Crimes Against Nature: The Pink-Viagra Case". However, I realize I can't include the name "Viagra" due to copyright restrictions, even though, if such a case were to occur, every newspaper in the country would splash the name across their headlines.

Any clue how to approach this? Either in terms of alternatives, or some way of including it anyway (say by having a character make the reference in a quote, representing a personal opinion rather than a direct reference to the product).

I can't picture a successful title consisting of "the Pink-ED Drug Case", and the complications would be enough to keep me from even starting the story.

I doubt there's anyway I could use the copyright term, though if it was for SOL only, I could probably escape detection and remain safe. I hate abandoning a story before even investigating it, especially since I know I'll likely come up with a better name eventually, but this seems like a non-starter to me.

Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

...complications behind a new ED drug...


If it's a new ED drug, just make up a similar name.

Pi-agra?

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Viagra is protected under trademark, not copyright. I don't think you can use the name without permission.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

In the story Come the Dawn an ED drug is developed and a key part of it but it has a different anme derived from the development formulas.

http://storiesonline.net/s/54818/come-the-dawn

Another way would be to name it after the active ingredient - but remember there are two major type Viagra uses one and Cialis uses the other.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

However, I realize I can't include the name "Viagra" due to copyright restrictions, even though, if such a case were to occur, every newspaper in the country would splash the name across their headlines.


Trademark not copyright. There is no copyright on the name Viagra, it is however trademarked. The rules for trademarks and copyrights are very different.

You are right however, the the owner would object, and probably take you to court. That's going a little too far in terms of putting a trademarked product in a bad light.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Viagra is protected under trademark, not copyright. I don't think you can use the name without permission.

That's what I assumed, but I've read multiple news accounts of the search for a "pink Viagra pill" which would provide a female ED solution with similar sales. I've always wondered how they got away with it, or even got the broadcasts approved by their legal staffs.

This isn't a story I could name after the detective, since the story isn't specifically about him, but about the drug in the case. What's more, the name of the drug is unimportant, as it's the effect and potential market for the drug that's essential. No one would care about a story about Xi-flow-32.

I know, if I write the story, I'm likely to find something within the story I could use as an alternate title, say a clever quote, but without a potential to publish the story upfront, I'm not about to invest in a dead-end story.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I don't think you can use the name without permission.


You can use a trademark without permission as long as you are using it to refer to the product / company for which the name was trademarked. However, there is potential for liability if you put the trademark in a bad light.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That's what I assumed, but I've read multiple news accounts of the search for a "pink Viagra pill" which would provide a female ED solution with similar sales. I've always wondered how they got away with it, or even got the broadcasts approved by their legal staffs.


Because it's news outlets using the "pink-Viagra" meme. Trademarks are issued for a specific field and are not applicable or enforceable against other fields. Most news companies are not in the business of selling pharmaceuticals.

And pink-Viagra is not what the manufacturer is calling it. The official name is Flibanserin. Don't ask me how they came up with that.

If the manufacturer were calling it pink-Viagra, Pfizer would be all over them. Pfizer probably did send a few nastygrams to the news outlets, but there is little up side for them in trying to sue the news media for misusing Viagra.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Why not title it: "Crimes Against Nature: The Little Pink Pill"?

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Another way would be to name it after the active ingredient - but remember there are two major type Viagra uses one and Cialis uses the other.

A female-centric ED drug isn't likely to use the same chemicals, though that's not impossible.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You can use a trademark without permission as long as you are using it to refer to the product / company for which the name was trademarked. However, there is potential for liability if you put the trademark in a bad light.

This would be tricky. By calling it "the female Viagra", I'm highlight how phenomenally successful the original product was. However, the fictional product ends up having horrible complications. While that wouldn't reflect badly on the original product, lawyers might object, suspecting a book they're never read might target their product.

@Switch

Why not title it: "Crimes Against Nature: The Little Pink Pill"?

That's probably the best solution, but there's already another drug known by that unofficial name (aka. Flibanserin), so calling it "the Pink Pill" would produce negative associations with an existing drug--even if I didn't specifically name it.

Again, the "Pink Viagra" points to the story's motive--producing another drug as successful as the original--rather than making aspersions against the phenomenally successful product.

By the way, I'm currently popping two separate "little pink pills" for other medical conditions. "Pink pill" doesn't really mean much.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

A female-centric ED drug isn't likely to use the same chemicals


check wiki etc for links to research in that area and see what they ahve to say.

Ernest Bywater

check the info in there links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_sexual_arousal_disorder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoactive_sexual_desire_disorder

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dysfunction

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


(aka. Flibanserin), so calling it "the Pink Pill" would produce negative associations with an existing drug--even if I didn't specifically name it.


Not true. "Pink Pill" is not trademarked. Unless you refer to that trademarked name as the little pink pill in your story you should be okay.

I used to work for American Express. They had the green plastic card which was basically the American Express card. Then they came up with a corporate card, which was also green, and trademarked the name Corporate Card. Then they came up with the Gold card. Well, Visa copied with their own Gold card. Amex sued saying Gold Card was their trademark. Of course we employees called the original card the green card, but that was never trademarked. VISA argued that the color could not be trademarked. Our lawyers told us that we could no longer call it the green card. We had to call it the Personal Card, both verbally and in print. I don't remember who won the suit. But the point is, unless Pink Pill is trademarked, you can use it.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Not true. "Pink Pill" is not trademarked. Unless you refer to that trademarked name as the little pink pill in your story you should be okay.

I wasn't suggesting that "Pink Pill" was trademarked, just that it's been associated with a specific female sex drive medication, and that if I write about a pill referred to as a "pink pill", readers would naturally assume I was targeting that one pill, instead of a fictional one. "Pink Pill" also doesn't focus on the motive in the story, which as I said, is more essential to the story than the specific pill. Rather than that, I'd do better calling it the "Lavender Pill", since there are no associations with that.

The problem with "Pink Viagra" is that there's a clear association with the name, even though the story doesn't target the pill. "Pink Pill" is a legit usage, but makes the book read like a diatribe. While I could get away with it, it would be (in my mind at least) a clear case of defamation.

I was hoping to highlight the story motive in the title, rather than a specific product.

I guess I'll have to invent a fictional product name and then title the book that, which has zero draw to a story and doesn't really describe the story.

Pink Viagra works perfectly, but isn't legitimate, and no other choice comes close to serving the same purpose. (sigh)

Guess I'll shelve the entire project, as I can't picture being able to market the eventual product. ("The Terrible Case of Zimetra"?)

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

I don't remember who won the suit. But the point is, unless Pink Pill is trademarked, you can use it.


Most likely the case was settled out of court, but the fact that Amex changed what it was calling it's cards would lead me to think that if it did go to trial, Amex lost.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Most likely the case was settled out of court, but the fact that Amex changed what it was calling it's cards would lead me to think that if it did go to trial, Amex lost.


Amex never called it the Green card. When I joined them, there was only one Amex card and it was green so we called it the green card meaning the Amex card. When they came up with the Corp Card it was also green, but named the Corp Card. Offically it was the Personal Card and the Corp Card, but we were used to calling the former the green card. It was only when they came up with the Gold Card and Visa came up with their own Gold Card that we were told to refer to it by it's official name -- the Personal Card and not use green card any longer. But since Visa has a Gold Card Amex must have lost.

But that adds credence to my argument that "pink pill" isn't trademarked and can be used even if a brand name is known as "the pink pill."

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