The Cure for Trademark Bowels

Dead of Eve is less than two months from going to press. Since I’m not stressed out about the endless things I have left to do (you can smell my sarcasm, right?), I’ve let my momentum clench into a tight fist of constipation as I fret over whether or not I should be using brand names in my manuscripts.

Too often, I’ve turned sentences over and over just to avoid the use of a trademark. But sometimes the reference is compulsory. A couple examples from Dead of Eve:

  • …outfitted a tactical custom radio, a first aid pouch, and mag pouches for his M4 carbine and Glock 19 pistol. Married to a gun dealer for fifteen years, I’d learned to catalogue the details of his equipment.
  • Empty mattresses lay on the bunks. Metal blinds covered the windows. A fucking Ritz Carlton.
  • “Then throw us a bloody Sharpie, why den’ he? We’ll just draw ‘Do Not Enter’ zones on your body.”

Sure, I could go back and generalize all the instances where I let brand names slip in. That is, if I wanted to comb through my 120k+ word manuscripts and find them. Screw that. I’d rather fight off a horde of zombies with a toilet plunger. So, I researched best practices on the subject.

The concerns:

  1. Trademark diarrhea: Watering down brand names in way that makes them nondescript. For example, Google doesn’t want you googling. They want you surfing for laxatives using the Google search engine. Band-Aid doesn’t want you to band-aid your hemorrhoids. They want you to cover them with a Band-Aid adhesive. Typically, you can avoid a lawyer’s letter by capitalizing the trademark.
  2. Trademark desecration: Using a brand name in a context that might be perceived as shoddy, scandalous, offensive, or being falsely accused of something it’s not. For example, Glock might not be too keen if your hero’s Glock handgun misfires, causes an explosion in the barrel, and its defectiveness kills the constipated patron squatting on the toilet one stall over. Best to use a fictitious brand name in that scenario, or expect seven shades of legal shit all over your shoes.

Anyone agree or disagree with my conclusions? Or maybe you just want to comment on the immaturity of my bathroom humor.