In continuation of our legal series, we’re discussing what your rights are when writing about other people

Respecting Other People: Writing about famous people, famous brands, and people you know

When it comes to using a brand name in a negative light, tread with care. Brand “tarnishment” is akin to defamation, and disparaging use of a brand name is often easier to find as publishing moves to the ebook and audiobook formats. Sure, you can use famous people as the basis for characters in your stories, or write about their crazy antics on your blog, but they also have unlimited funds to sue you if they take a disliking to what you say about them. Unless there is a compelling artistic reason to disparage a brand, creating a fictional brand would be prudent. If, however, you feel your story would be compromised without using the actual brand name, seek counsel to evaluate the risks and determine how best to minimize them.

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