Can I Use Actual Bank Names In My Novel? It Depends…

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I would appreciate your opinion regarding libel content. I have situations in my book indicating cyber intrusions within (two national banks) implicating employees. I have the normal caveat indicating the characters and incidents are the imagination of the author. Do you think that is sufficient?

Please remember that I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

If it were my book, I would not use the names of real companies or individuals. Doing so can definitely bring on lawsuit threats (which can halt the sales of your book) and, of course, actual lawsuits. Even if you win, the legal process could bankrupt you.

Here are some examples of correctly and incorrect usage of business names:

Writing “She loved Coca Cola (TM)” in your novel is fine.

Writing (even fictionally), “He was poisoned by a bad batch of (real product name)” is not fine.

Writing “He was poisoned by a bad batch of soda” is fine.

Writing about (name of major banks removed) being hacked is definitely not fine because you can damage their reputations, even if your book is fiction. You should use completely fictitious company names, perhaps like Bells Cargo Bank or DasterCard. And, you need to Google any fictitious names you come up with to ensure they aren’t being used by a real company. You should also check trademarks for names you choose HERE.

Definitely don’t use the names of any real people who worked at one of those companies (or anyone connected to the crimes you mention) because they could sue, too, even if they’ve been found guilty. Since you’re writing fiction, and not using provable facts, there are too many fictional details they could claim have harmed their reputations.

Believe me. It’s not worth it. Family members sue each other all the time, even over book content. Imagine the greed of real criminals who aren’t related to the author, to say nothing of how far real companies will go to protect their reputations.

See:

Don’t Invite Lawsuits by Real People Featured in Your Book! (Hint: You Can Still Be Sued Even If You Don’t Name Them!)

Featuring Real People in Your Writing? Protect Yourself From Lawsuits!

Should I Get Permission to Fictionalize a Real Business or Person?

Can I Use Real Brand Names in My Novel?

Using Real People/Places/Events in Fiction

Does that “Fictitious” Business Name in Your Novel Already Belong to Somebody Else?

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