To what extent can you use locations, businesses, etc. from the real world in fiction? I know someone cannot copyright a city, but what about a particular location in the city that's private. Can I talk about the Denver Convention Center and use the actual building layout in a novel? Can I use a particular business, say Hacienda Colorado, in a book?
Use of trademarked names in fiction does not violate intellectual property laws. There are a couple of things to be wary of nonetheless.
Be careful with the light in which you depict real businesses. As explained here, if you have a character die from a bad hamburger at Burger King or hurt himself because of a defective pair of Reeboks, then prepare for a libel suit.
Similarly, as discussed here, don't turn a trademarked brand name into a verb or a non-proper noun (which lawyers call trademark dilution). In other words, don't have characters "hoovering the living room," "drinking a coke," or "googling their names." Instead, make sure they're "vacuuming the living room with Hoover's wonderful appliance," "enjoying a Coca-Cola," or "performing a search on their names using that awesome Google." Or better yet, stick to vacuum cleaner, soft drink, and search engine. :)
As long as the portrayal is innocuous, and brand names are capitalized and not "genericized," there is no harm and no need for any kind of acknowledgment.
In fiction writing, it is commonplace to use real life businesses and locations. It's also becoming commonplace to include a section in books that tells the reader who owns the trademark to those businesses. If you don't acknowledge trademarks, you can open yourself to lawsuits from businesses that are trying to protect their trademarks. If a business doesn't protect their trademark, they can lose it.
Also, if you're using real life businesses or people - be very careful what you say. If you say negative things about them or untrue things, you can open yourself up to libel lawsuits as well. (The bigger the company, the bigger the legal department they have.)
Another technique, specifically for fiction, not mentioned above is to create a fake brand from the ground up. A perfect example is Toy Story's "Pizza Planet." It clearly paints a picture reminiscent of Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz Pizza and just kid-laden arcades in general. But it does so by creating something unique, rather than just changing/genericizing the name of something that already exists. Though, if it is a rather different / hodgepodge concept, it may take up a lot of page-time (as Pizza Planet did) fleshing out its intricacies. So make sure its importance in the story is directly proportionate to its complexity/difference from what the reader is familiar with.
I think it is recommended to check for Trademarked and Copywrited names. don't forget to also look at the site of the business you are looking at. For example, NASA doesn't allow the usage of their logo and names unless something is sponsored.
Trademarked names are O.K. to be used, as long as you don't say anything bad about them.
Good luck on writing your novel!
Your question made me (yes, Google is in my brain, twisting my neuronal arm) think of Google Street View ("a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world" - Wikipedia).
My point is that the images here blur out things like people's faces, number plates and views into people's bathrooms. This is to ensure that things (and people) are not too personally identifiable (and so that pervs and peepers don't have it too easy). On the other hand, businesses can pay Google to walk around their business premises taking panoramic photographs as they go.
I would suggest that you follow the same model for your novel. Perhaps even take a look on Google Street View for the locations and businesses you want to use and see what has been exposed. If they are that keen on letting Google in, then they might even pay you to write about them.
But not, as others have rightly pointed out, if you say bad things about them.
Good luck with your novel. Robert.
To me, naming specific brands is always a bit jarring, since it could be come dated, the reader might have strong opinions about the brand that differ from the viewpoint character, and so forth.
In my own fiction I generally invent the business I write about, and there is often no reason to name them.