We are interested in naming a Foundation by name in a fictious novel. The novel does not state any official positions the Foundation has taken with regard to parapsychological work. However, we would plan to list the organization by name, and that the researcher conducted work at a University supported by the Foundation.

Need to know if this is Ok, or if we should create a fictitious name?

Ps. we have also reached out to the actual organization to see if they are OK with our using their name. Again if not, we would alter and ensure there is no inference made.

  • 1
    If you've reached out to the organisation, then you don't need to ask us. At least, not yet. Wait for them to reply, and if they don't, then you can ask us. – F1Krazy Dec 27 '19 at 18:28

As a general rule, it's fine to use real organizations as part of a fictional story. Your characters can eat at Burger King, volunteer with Doctors without Borders, or listen to NPR without any issues. Doing so can help ground a story in reality, and fill in readers expectations without having to add superfluous exposition.

That said, you should pay attention to how you are portraying these organizations. Organizations tend to be very image conscious (for good reason), and negative portrayals are more likely to get a reaction than positive or neutral ones.

In other words, it's fine for your characters to eat at Burger King, or to be saved by heroic Burger King employees, but if you're planning to reveal that a fast food joint is run by demon-worshiping death cultists, maybe call that restaurant "Sandwich Prince" instead.

Also, be especially cautious around entertainment companies that have their own intellectual property to protect. They're far more likely to be picky about their properties' appearances in your story than your average organization.


I lost the count of how many times United Nation has been used in all sorts of fiction. IMO as long as you are not defaming them you are fine.

As regards to obfuscating names as Arcanist Lupus had suggested, I would recommend to exercise more caution since Jack Daniel's cease and desist letter. A franchise chain might get their pants in the knot even if obfuscated as Sandwich Prince.

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