Legal Question in Intellectual Property in New Jersey

Can I use a pun on a brand name in a song title? For example, saying "Taco Belle" or something like that.

Asked on 9/19/13, 12:33 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Frank Natoli Natoli-Legal, LLC

You are free to use the names of businesses, people or companies in your songs. In this context, you are not using those brands to identify yourself in any way so they are not being employed as trademarks.

Of course, anytime you mention a famous brand or person, etc. you need to make sure there is nothing you are saying that can be construed as defamatory leaving them room for that kind of claim; an opinion however is perfectly fine. So you can sing about how Walmart exploits workers, if that is your opinion, but you cannot say that they engage in violations of child labor laws because that is a fact that if untrue they can come after you for saying publically. Of course, if you have reason to believe that it is in fact true then you can claim it. But you better have a good reason why you believed it to be true; for example testimony from a child that was exploited.

Further, you need to make sure that you are not in some way creating a false association between yourself and those brands, like to suggest that they are somehow affiliated with you or sponsoring you, etc.

Otherwise, you enjoy freedom of expression and artistic creativity in this country.

If you have concerns that something you propose might incite some anger from a particular business, I suggest you consult an IP lawyer in private and discuss it over. If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.

Kind regards,



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DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis

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Answered on 9/19/13, 12:47 pm

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