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Names, legalities, and such

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I have a simple question, not in the scenario that I plan to have, but I dont know any specific keywords I could use to search this up in this forum without seeing 50% of all threads show up.

My question is if, for example, I were named Homer Simpson, and I wanted to create a game(book, show, any media, really) about myself, what would be the legal implications of using such a name? Does possession of the name change any of the legal aspects of it at all? Would this be one of those 'talk to your lawyer' situations because if odds are stacked that someone will reply with a response like that, I can save you one and tell you that I wont be asking a lawyer. So, whats the verdict?

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Since you won't ask a lawyer and this is a forum for software people not lawyers then the only way you'll find out if you'll get sued is to go and do it and see what happens. Fox Television definitely WILL talk to a lawyer, so basically when you do or don't get legal paperwork arrive in the post then you'll have a definitive answer.

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I imagine it depends heavily on how fat, bald or yellow you are - and perhaps whether you are in charge of [i]nucular[/i] safety.

The real problem for most normal people is that the cost of arguing your case in court is prohibitively expensive. How much money are you willing to bet that you are right? This is why you need a lawyer, they'll be able to give you a good idea of the costs and risks and you can decide to go ahead or not based on this.

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This is one of those situations where a court will rely heavily on common sense. If your parents named you Homer Simpson and you didn't change your original name to that just to use it as a legal defense for infringement I think you're fine. Along the lines of what rip-off said as long as you're not trying to portray yourself as a fat, bald, yellow, nuclear power plant employee then I would think you'd be fine if all you're wanting to do is write an autobiography. Just expect to be asked and confronted with the claim that you're utilizing Fox's copyright and brand recognition for your own financial gain. I'm not a lawyer but my experiences with the legal system have been ruled moreso by common sense rather than tricky legal maneuvers. But as always, consult a lawyer. There are tons of lawyers that do free consultations or even charge just a small fee. The highest consultation fee I've paid is $50.

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[quote name='aTunaSashimi' timestamp='1311666335' post='4840404']Would this be one of those 'talk to your lawyer' situations[/quote]
Yes, of course it is. You'll be talking to one sooner or later anyway. Better to do it sooner than later when forced into it.

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I have no intentions of doing such things, nor do I expect I'll need a lawyer for a while down the road given my current situation. At the moment, the effort of finding a lawyer for a quick one time question isn't quite worth the result of finding out whether I can use the name Homer Simpson, especially when my name isn't Homer Simpson. It was just a thought that occurred to me, and I definitely did consider the fact that any visual likeness to any extent would certainly open up the gates to legal hell. I appreciate the responses though.

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This is one of those "how do I get around the law" or "how much of something can I copy without getting caught" questions. As such you are right - only a lawyer (or actually a court) can answer. Having said that just because your parents named you "Coke" that wouldn't give you any right to make and sell "Coke's Cola". Your name is just your name - it has nothing to do with trademark law, copyright law or passing off.

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Trademark protection in the US is predicated on "use in commerce". As Obscure pointed out, having the same name as a famous character or product does not give you the right to use it in connection with a similar product especially if it is likely to cause confusion as to who created the product.

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