Quick writing primer today on trademarks in fiction. While using song lyrics in your fiction without first obtaining written permission is verbotten, trademarks frequently confuse writers.
What do I mean?
For example, when you refer to the drink, it’s Coke, not coke. (Lowercase coke is if you’re referring to cocaine.) It’s a Dumpster, not a dumpster. It’s a Band-Aid, not a band-aid or a bandaid.
How do you find out the proper spelling/capitalization of a product?
In today’s internet age, the easiest way is to do a Google search for it. (See what I did there? Because “googling” it is wrong.) Just like you shouldn’t xerox something, but you can use a Xerox copier to make a copy.
There are three basic guidelines to safely using a trademarked name in a story:
1) Don’t use it as a verb.
2) Write it correctly.
3) Use it in a non-defamatory way.
Otherwise, you need to make something up. No, you don’t need to use the trademark or registered symbol for the brand name, and you don’t need to have a list in the front of the book stating who owns the trademarks.
Here are a few references on the matter: