I'm writing a short story about a girl whose boyfriend is doing in internship in another city. She goes to visit him every week. But the guy always call at the last minute, saying he can't come and gives her some lame excuse. So every time, the girl ends up sitting alone in the city's train station, at Sushi Express, eating sushi and meeting some strange characters.

I want to call the story Sushi Express which is a real sushi shop.

Is it legally OK to use it as the title of my short story? If not, what trick can I use to sort this out?

(I thought of other names but they sound terrible: Sushi Expressway, High-speed Sushi, Speedy Sushi, etc.)

I'm not planning to publish the story yet. But I hope I won't have any problems in the future (based on the legal system of all over the world, since I'm more likely to publish it on Amazon.)

  • 2
    This is a legal question, and the answer will probably depend on the legal system in which you reside/publish, so it's unanswerable until you tell us what legal system you're asking about. And since Stack Exchange is not designed to provide legal advice, I suggest that only answers citing a reliable outside source should be taken seriously.
    – BESW
    Nov 17, 2013 at 13:06

4 Answers 4


Well, there is one simple and universal answer: Ask Sushi Express for written permission. If the story puts their shop in a good light, they should be glad to provide it (free publicity/product placement) and you'll be in the clear legally.

Otherwise, BESW's comment is right; that depends on your local legal system. Answers will vary depending on where you and Sushi Express are.


In the united states what you are as is probably fair use (fair dealing in other jurisdictions) but few companies understand fair use, so you will probably be sued and even if you win which might be problematic, I have seen district court judges ignore fair use, might be very expensive, so be careful. I would personally recommend a longer title such as Thursday at sushi express, and licencing or endorsement. (ask sushi express if they would like you to promote their second best selling dish and collect a little money. which would be an implicit licence.)

I have never heard anything specific about this restaurant's legal practices or their lawyers, so my advice is based on typical corporations.

  • As i understand it, fair use / fair dealing relates to the use without permission of copyrighted material. Company names aren't protected under copyright, but by trademark, so fair use is irrelevant.
    – evilsoup
    Apr 6, 2017 at 5:59

(disclaimer: I am not a lawyer)

“Sushi Express” is presumably a trademark, so if you use it as the title of the story, then you are trying to profit off their corporate reputation. Even if the story portrays the store in a favorable light, some insufficiently busy lawyer in Sushi Express’s corporate headquarters might decide that if anyone is going to make money off short stories using their trademark, then by God, they should get a piece of the action.

  • Seth is probably right here, but it's unlikely that a restaurant would trademark a name -- unless it's a franchise. Also, the two words are generic enough that you could make the argument that you weren't referring to a specific restaurant. Also, unless you are using specific details from the restaurant (like menu items, location, etc), I doubt that they would pursue you -- especially if you not publishing it freely on the web. Apr 3, 2017 at 16:06

It's helpful to remember that John Updike's story "A&P" didn't arouse any trademark issues -- and it was published in the New Yorker in 1961 and later in Pigeon Feathers.

  • "A&P" are two initials that need not relate to "Atlantic and Pacific" Company. But "Sushi Express" clearly relates to Sushi Express.
    – Tom Au
    Sep 20, 2018 at 15:29
  • "A&P" took place in a supermarket. It would be hard to argue that the title means anything else. Feb 26, 2019 at 18:50

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