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Is using Graceland as a book's title a tm violation?

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EricPalicki

Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Ohio.

I am a writer currently producing a comic book series which features an Elvis Impersonator (he clearly resembles Elvis, although that name is never explicitly stated in the work.) The book is a work of fiction, clearly. I have recently found a publisher for the work, contingent upon the title not being a violation of US trademark laws.

The working title for the project is GRACELAND, and although Elvis's mansion is never seen or mentioned explicitly in the body of the work, I worry that keeping the title may constitute a violation of copyright and/or Trademark law.

Can anyone help me with this?

Thanks.

Eric Palicki
 


divgradcurl

Senior Member
EricPalicki said:
What is the name of your state? Ohio.

I am a writer currently producing a comic book series which features an Elvis Impersonator (he clearly resembles Elvis, although that name is never explicitly stated in the work.) The book is a work of fiction, clearly. I have recently found a publisher for the work, contingent upon the title not being a violation of US trademark laws.

The working title for the project is GRACELAND, and although Elvis's mansion is never seen or mentioned explicitly in the body of the work, I worry that keeping the title may constitute a violation of copyright and/or Trademark law.

Can anyone help me with this?

Thanks.

Eric Palicki

Well, for one thing, it won't be a copyright issue, because you can't copyright a name or a title -- so, by definition, the term "Graceland" is not copyrightable subject matter.

Trademark is a different story -- "Graceland" is almost certainly covered by one or mnore trademarks. It's generally a "fair use" of a trademark to use a trademark to describe what something is -- in other wordsd, it's okay to refer to a "Big Mac" as a "Big Mac" because that's what it is. It is generally an infringing use of a trademark if you use the "famousness" of the trademark to attract attention to your (unaffiliated) product of service. In other words, it would likely be infringing to name your cominc "Big Mac" if the sole purpose of the name was to get McDonald's afficianados to purchase your comics about Elvis.

Your case is somewhere in the middle. As a guess, I would suspect that the title "Graceland" in this context would be okay -- but even if it is okay, that doesn't mean the trademark owner wouldn't sue anyway. In your case, I would recommend trying to sit down and talk with a local attorney with experience in copyrights, who can review all of the relevant facts in your case, look up the current caselaw, and advise you accordingly. Like I said, I would suspect that the use would be okay, but that is NOT legal advice, and I don't have all of the facts in front of me, nor have I researched any caselaw.
 

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