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dkennedy
dkennedy, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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Experience:  15+ years of practice, including intellectual property--primarily copyright law
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Can I use Rudolphs (the red-nosed reindeer) name in a story

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Can I use Rudolph's (the red-nosed reindeer) name in a story song (as a background character) under "fair use" doctrine? What about his image along with other characters?
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Hello,

As far as my research, it appears that it is not copyrighted as a "name" but you cannot use the song itself. As for the image. as long as it's your own image. For instance, I've seen storybooks with Rudolph's image, so you cannot use something like that. You need to make your own illustrations. What follow up questions do you have?

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Experience: 15+ years of practice, including intellectual property--primarily copyright law
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Your advice confirms my expectations. I merely want to make reference that my character is related to Rudolph, acknowledging that when Santa's reindeer are discussed, Rudolph is generally accepted as one of them in addition to the original 8 from the Clement Moore poem. So his name appears both in my story and in my original song. I had thought it might be best to not use his image at all, but I would prefer to have him visible as part of a background group in perhaps one illustration, drawn by my own illustrator. I'm sure I'd be safer by not including his image at all, so I'll keep that in mind as we plan the illustrations for the story book. I feel I'm on pretty safe ground for these usages of the name and minimal role of Rudolph as a character. Does this sound reasonable to you?
That sounds quite reasonable.