THE RUNAWAY AUCTION? informs the IPKat that Stephen King, John Grisham, Andrew Sean Greer (who?) and several other best-selling authors are joining Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon on 1 September in auctioning on eBay the right to name characters in their new novels. Profits will go toward a campaign to defend the free speech rights of activists, writers and artists called the First Amendment Project. Says Chabon:
"It feels a little scary for most writers because when you're writing you're completely in charge. You can say this book is all mine, it's my world. Whether giving some of that over has any monetary value or not, we'll see".
King says his highest bidder will get to name a character in a new zombie novel he describes as being "like cheap whisky ... very nasty and extremely satisfying". John Grisham, on the other hand, is promising to portray his top bidder's chosen name "in a good light". Findlaw recommends that bidders beware: most of the authors are clearly retaining creative control to use the names as they see fit.

The IPKat wonders what the authors would do if they found that the winning bidders had taken the trouble to register their names as trade marks. This could be a short-cut to fame or fortune on the back of a successful novel, particularly if it became a film. Merpel says, "I'm not so sure about this cheap whisky business though".

Misery "heroine" heroine Anne Wilks here and here.
THE RUNAWAY AUCTION? THE RUNAWAY AUCTION? Reviewed by Jeremy on Tuesday, August 16, 2005 Rating: 5


Anonymous said...

They need to think through them thar terms and conditions.

I win and I choose to name my characters Harry Potter and Hermione Grainger. Cue the arrival of a writ.

The IP Dog.

Anonymous said...

Arising from the IP Dog's comment -- do fictional characters have the right to rely on an "honest use of one's own name" defence in trade mark infringement proceedings?

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