I read the very helpful discussion of using brand/company names in fiction (Use of real organization in fiction) and have read other resources on the internet but have not been able to find one question answered:

My story involves an evil travel agency that abducts its clients. Since the travel agency supposedly operates in the Balkans, I gave this fictitious company a very generic name: Balkan Tours.

However, it now occurs to me that somewhere out there is a company called Balkan Tours (several, in fact— it's like calling an Indian restaurant "Taj Mahal"). There is no likeness drawn between the companies except for the use of the name. Moreover, we've created an original visual identity for the Balkan Tours in our story (it's actually a computer game production): a business card appears at one point with a logo of my creation.

How concerned should I be that one of the tiny little Balkan Tours operators out there will bring a defamation suit against me? At a certain point, it becomes impossible to guarantee that there is no company in existence with the same name as one's fictitious company, so I would hope there's some common-sense standard around this.

Thank you.

  • "How concerned should I be that one of the tiny little Balkan Tours operators out there will bring a defamation suit against me?" - sounds a little cynical, I would say.
    – Alexander
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 17:41
  • Please don't deface your questions like that. It's not nice to the people who put in time and effort to answer your question, and it's also pointless since the original question remains visible in the edit history anyway.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


you can rename it, or you can use a disclaimer to say that "any connections between names, places, or businessess that actually exsist are entirely coincidental." if it were a bigger company like say, if your characters were going to eat at a McDonalds, that would be one thing, but if there isn't something like that and it isn't very well known, you're right, that is different.


Can you risk all your life savings, house, and book being seized by that said small company in fees you may owe them from this? You can change the name slightly or completely if you want.

Instead of Balkan Tours do THE balkann Tours or Balkans Tours, or spell Bulkans differently like Bulkahn. Do you know we have the Post, Posts, and the Post It? or the New York Times and the New Yorks Times? or other very close spellings its why we can have people saying a magazine said something that didn't. I'd say work on spelling the name differently that way it's safer if you must keep it. You can also add in directions Balkans East Tours or Balkans Upper Tours.

If you've found something that is already a business knowingly keeping it in is a bad idea sure they may not sue you.

Sure you could reach out to them and ask them and get in writing by the CEO this usage is fine but it's far easier and better that you just change it, scramble it, or otherwise retune that especially if you really do think this will see the light of a bookshelf in publishing terms to cover your "assets" the recommendation of, "All names, places, and locations are coincidental don't sue me," Doesn't actually protect you from being sued I wish it did most people see that and wouldn't bother to sue you for having something or someone familiar in it but businesses and cooperations think differently.

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