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Old February 12th, 2005, 10:05 PM   #1
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Can I mention 7-11 in my film?

I would like a character to say "I'm not going to work at 7-11 the rest of my life".

Am I allowed to mention companies like that in casual dialog?

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Old February 12th, 2005, 11:52 PM   #2
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I'm not a lawyer, but "yes."
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Old February 13th, 2005, 08:15 AM   #3
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I'm not a lawyer, not practicing law, yahdah yahda...

You can certainly mention the 'real world' in any way that is not construed as terribly derrogative.

"I used to drive an old chevy when I was a kid, ..." Things like that are perfectly normal. If you're character starts to go off on a rant about a brand name being particularly egregious... you start skating on thin ice. Just to be on the safe side, can your character say "the local mini-mart" ?

Ask yourself - if you are concerned enough about liability, how important to the film is the brand name? Can you make a change, and have the audience still 'get it' ?

"I went down to Mega Super Mart, and got a fifty gallon drum of mayonaise." - We know where the character went.

"I worked at Mc Friendly's for the summer." (See the current Doonesbury comic strip.)

In a feature film, these are the issues that the "Errors and ommissions" people insure you for, and why they get to go over the script with a fine toothed comb.

Our resident legal wrangler might want to weigh in here... Paul?
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Old February 14th, 2005, 10:25 AM   #4
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I think it would be terrible if he changed it to mini-mart. That wouldn't have anywhere near the resonance. Whenever I hear obviously neutered speech like that in a movie it somewhat ruins the illusion for me because I'm suddenly conscious of all the lawyers yammering in the background. I think 7-11 and McDonald's are points of reference for our culture whether the big corporations like it or not. In any case, isn't it inarguable that spending an entire life working the register for either company is something most people would despair at? I think the point is well taken though that you don't want your characters going on needless tirades about specific brand names. That's just asking for it.

Rob, 7-11 is a 24-hour convenience store chain that has many locations in urban areas that are constantly getting held up. The chain invented the concept that people will drink a gallon of soda if it's only marginally more expensive than the smaller size. The chain has pretty much come to represent the plastic, wasteful nature of America's "on the go" culture. Ironically, that's what many people seem to like about it.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 10:30 AM   #5
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For what it's worth, when I hear brand names used in indie film dialogue, I feel it cheapens it, kind of like name dropping in conversation. There is always a way around it without using the brand name.
Instead of "I'm not going to work at 7-11 for the rest of my life"
how about "I'm not going to pour slushees for the rest of my life".

Everyone knows what you are talking about without you using the name.

Just my $0.02
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Old February 14th, 2005, 11:31 AM   #6
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I remember the movie Jerry McGuire getting a lot of heat for this type of thing, because Cuba Gooding's character hated Reebok. he ranked them out and talked about how much he hated them.

Reebok got pissed, but I don't think they had any legal recourse.

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Old February 14th, 2005, 11:59 AM   #7
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I would agree that making a lot of pop culture references has gotten pretty tired. But sometimes it fits. I'm just advocating that these decisions ought to be made based on what's in the best interest of the script, rather than a knee-jerk fear over lawsuits that don't stand a realistic chance of ever getting filed anyway.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 12:02 PM   #8
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Okay, I can't give legal advice to non-clients, no one here is my client, etc. With that said . . .

There are threeconcerns with the scenario the OP has mentioned: trademark infringment, dilution and trade libel.

Trademark infringement results if there is a likelihood of consumer confusion as to source, sponsorship or affiliation. In other words, if consumers are likely to believe there is some connection between the producers of the film and 7-11, then there is a problem.

Dilution results when the source-distinguishing characteristics of a famous mark are diminished. Dilution usually occurs in the context of significant use for a non-competing product -- unlike infringement, consumer confusion isn't an element.

Tarnishment is a species of dilution -- the best example I can think of is the old porno film "Debbie Does Dallas." The film's use of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders uniforms (which are protected as trade dress -- a form of trademark) resulted in tarnishment of the mark because of the film's "dirty" connotations.

Trade libel, sometimes called trade or commercial disparagement, is just like "normal" defamation -- causing damage by saying something false about a product or service.

The only advice I can give to the OP is that he invest a couple of hundred dollars of his production budget in talking to a competent IP attorney if he is concerned about incurring liability (if you call your local bar association, they can provide a referral).
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Old February 14th, 2005, 12:57 PM   #9
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Right, the guy can change the line and get away scott-free, but, what kinda movie is he making here? I mean, is this going to be on Blockblaster shelves and HOB? Probably not. Kid, you should stick to your guns. Maintain your integrity and take one for the team, say "7-11" (or change it to 7-eleven?). It's not worth their legal buck to take you out and you'll bend the rules just enough to change the way your children, and your children's children will make reference to the economic landscape of the future. Imagine a time if you will, when you cannot capture an exterior day with out Citgro and MacDunnals and WellMart signs crowding your viewfinder. It's not far off, friends.

Say "7-11".
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Old February 14th, 2005, 01:07 PM   #10
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<<<-- Originally posted by Ian Corey : say "7-11" (or change it to 7-eleven?). -->>>

:) Does this mean you can get away with saying "fuq" on prime-time TV?

Anyway, Is this really a question of artistic integrity? I don't think so. As a matter of fact, despite having lived in five different states, I don't even think I've ever been in a 7-11. Been in lots of convenience stores, but not sure they've been 7-11s. I know there's not one in the town I've lived in for over a decade....

The dig you're making is at the convenience-store-job, not directly at 7-11. So why not "Gulp n Go" or "Gas n Flee" or some other, creative, funny, *invented* name? Your audience will still completely understand what you mean. Think about Repo Man -- it targeted the lifestyle that Marco mentioned, but I don't recall (though I could be wrong) it targeting or mentioning a real brand -- in fact, it gave items generic brands like "Beer."

Personally, I'd think saying 7-11 was a little "behind the times" in a way (there are certainly far more convenience stores than 7-11 nowadays), and I'd probably find a *creative* made-up name to be funnier/better.

EDIT: philosophical aside: also, it's funny, because this discussion is actually a symptom of the problem Marco mentions. The OP is obvously trying to convey that their character does not want to be stuck in a dead-end job, yet feels it necessary to use the short-hand of a brand name. As these companies/brands/etc become more prevalent, they become more and more of a quick, lazy, and shall I say "convenient," short-hand for what we are really trying to say. Not that anyone here is lazy.... :) Anyway, I like it when characters live in invented, but flesh-out worlds. I like it when they have Quickie-Marts in their world and not 7-11s. I like it when a writer goes to the length to create a world for his characters to exist in...
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Old February 14th, 2005, 01:36 PM   #11
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I wonder if they ever slammed the film "Rain Man"?

I's one of the most famous lines that EVERY one repeats...

"K-Mart Sucks."

It probably helped accelerate K-Mart's rush towards bankruptcy.

I thought recently that...when K-Mart was restructuring...they should have hired both Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman to do a commercial for them...

Something like...

"K-Mart doesn't suck."
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Old February 16th, 2005, 04:45 AM   #12
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Since my previous post has vanished into thin air (thanks Dylan)
I'm gonna restate something:

do keep audiences outside your country in mind as well. As per
my original post I had no idea what a 7-11 is (thanks for the
explenation Marco!). I can imagine a lot of people don't know.
Describing a crummy piece of the job will make it far more clear
what you are talking about and it removes your "problem".

Rob Lohman,
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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