Each time the headhunter called, I was amused. At the time, I didn't watch baseball. All of the presumed perks of the trademark lawyer job – tickets to games, swag with team logos, etc. – would have meant nothing to me.
Fast forward mumble-mumble years. I'm now writing a series of hot, contemporary romances built around the (imaginary) Raleigh Rockets baseball team. And I'm using my trademark lawyer skills every step of the way.
First, when I was just beginning to develop the series, I
ran a trademark search to make sure that "Rockets" was available for my
fictional baseball team. I couldn't use
the name if it was confusingly similar to other team names. "Similar" for trademark purposes
can mean a lot of things, but I had to consider "sight, sound, and
meaning". I couldn't use
"Rockets" if there was already a "Pockets" team out
there. Nor could I use
"Rockets" if there was already a "Spaceships" team.
Ultimately, I concluded that "Rockets" was available for use.
But my trademark expertise was still required. There is big money in Major League Baseball. They demand high licensing fees for their team logos; in fact, licensed goods are worth millions of dollars every year. While I'm determined to make the Diamond Brides Series a success, I know I'll never be able to afford Major League licensing costs.
And so it became important for me to avoid infringing Major League trademarks. I could not send my Raleigh Rockets to play the New York Yankees, or the Los Angeles Dodgers, or any other real team. Nevertheless, I could send them to New York, or to LA. (A city name can't be trademarked; only the team name can be protected.)
Even with the restrictions on trademarked names, I can make factual statements about an existing team. Thus, if I want to refer to Babe Ruth, I can mention that the Red Sox sold him to the Yankees. I can say that the Colorado Rockies have never won the World Series. Those are facts, and I'm not connoting that the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rockies have sponsored my Diamond Brides Series in any way or that the teams are somehow the source of my spicy romances.
If I've done my job right, readers will be so engrossed in my characters that they'll never think about the picky details of trademark law. Baseball is a backdrop to my stories – each novel is about a man and a woman working through conflicts so they can be the best partners possible for each other.
What books have you read where trademarks leaped out at you? Or conversely, what books have you read where the author has gone through clever machinations to avoid having a trademark leap out at you?
Hugs to all,
Nancy C. Weeks