As the title says I have a character named "Jeep" and I would like to know if it will cause any copyright problems for me or not.

(P.S: By the way, it's for a script for a game.)

  • Unless your character is a car, I think it should be fine. Companies cannot copyright individual words. Jun 28 at 11:46
  • 2
    There's always "Eugene the Jeep" as a character in Popeye comic strips and cartoons. Eugene the Jeep actually pre-dates the Army vehicle and the civilian vehicles that came after the war.
    – JRE
    Jun 28 at 12:05
  • oh, thanks everyone! Jun 28 at 12:15
  • 1
    @JRE If I recall, Eugene the Jeep actually inspired the Jeep company's name.
    – hszmv
    Jun 28 at 12:58
  • 1
    @hszmv: Nope. Jeeps (the Army vehicle) was originally built by Willys-Overland. It was called a "General Purpose" vehicle, abbreviated as "GP." Soldiers took to calling it a "jeep," but it isn't clear if that came by way of pronouncing "GP" as a word or by connection to Eugene - or both. Willys trademarked the vehicle name "Jeep" around 1950 and sold vehicle models under that name. Take a look at the Wikipedia page for "Jeep." It has a good bit about the history of the Jeep.
    – JRE
    Jun 28 at 13:06

Copyright does not protect single words or short phrases, such as book or film titles. Trademark law can, but there are limitations.

A trademark only protects a name used in trade, that is used to sell or advertise something, or indicate the source of something being sold or promoted for sale. It protects against someone else using the same mark, or a confusingly similar mark, to sell or identify a similar sort of product or service. Thus, using "Jeep" to label any kind of automobile would probably infringe the famous mark owned by the Jeep company (formerly Willys-Overland). Using it as a name for a character in a novel would not so infringe.

If a use might plausibly lead a reasonable person to think that a product or service is sponsored, endorsed, or approved by the trademark holder when it is not, that would also be trademark infringement. This does not seem to apply to the situation in the question.

A trademark can be used without permission to refer to the trademarked product or company, but this also doesn't seem to apply here.

In short, no legal problem seems likely from the situation described in the question.

In future, one might get better answers, or quicker ones, to this sort of question on Law SE, where trademark issues are addressed with some frequency.

  • Just don't use it in the title of the story. Since the title would be used in advertising, they could attempt a trademark suit based on that.
    – interduo
    Jul 6 at 15:48

I don't think so. The word "jeep" is a common noun for a 4x4 vehicle in many languages, including English. As far as I know, it was trademarked well after it came into general use during WW2.

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