• Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us!

Can I use dark elves?


Hey all, I'm sorry if this is the wrong forum for this. I'm curious if I'm allowed to use dark elves in my novels? I'd hate to work on a novel, just to be unable to publish it because of the use of dark elves :p.

They are inside my own world, their own cities, etc.

Thanks all!

Well since I wrote "Of Dark Elves and Dragons" I'm going to say a big yes to that. No one's bothered me about it in the three years its been out anyway.

In any case if you're concerned about a particular name / term - you can check if it's trademarked by going to the USPTO site and doing a search.

Cheers, Greg.


Felis amatus
The name "drow" is old, from what I understand. Regardless, there are potential trademark issues, but just using the race name in a story isn't necessarily a trademark violation.


The name "drow" is old, from what I understand. Regardless, there are potential trademark issues, but just using the race name in a story isn't necessarily a trademark violation.

That may be true but the legal hassle it can cause is not worth it. Too many lawyers use the threat of lawsuit to get payment even when they know they won't win the case.


Are there fair use laws for tradmarks like there are for copyrighted works? I mean it seems kinda rediculous to not be able to use dark elves because it is tradmarked. I get it if it's blatant or derivitave but if it's new or changed in significant ways or used in a diverse way I don't see what the big deal is, My opinion. I mean I read that the terms "Super Bowl" is trademarked by the NFL, does that mean this post violates trademark, or by including a refrence to the superbowl. Hell even a book about a superbowl game turned mage battle would violate trademark by my understanding (i'm probably worng here I hope). Does anyone know how trademark works in creative works?


Similar to psychotick dark elves played a part in the third novel in my fantasy series. They were also called Svartalfar, and are based on the dark elves of Scandinavian Mythology. As you indicated, sankunai, they're of your own creation and in your own unique world. Thus, would not be a problem.


Felis amatus
As a general rule, to infringe a trademark you have to create a likelihood of confusion between your product and those of the trademark owner. If you use Drow in such a way as to suggest you are affiliated with Wizards of the Coast, for example, you've got a problem. Famous trademarks get special protection.

Referring to a trademark in a story is not likely to be an infringement, but if a trademark owner with a lot of money wants to make something of it, it can still be a headache for you.

Legendary Sidekick

The HAM'ster
Don't give your dark elves names with double z's. A guy who lives 5 miles from my house did that and...

We'll, he ended up selling millions of books.

I don't claim to know R.A. Salvatore personally, but he doesn't come off as a guy who would sue over the inclusion of a similar race. As stated by others, avoid trademarked names. I might add avoid apparent similarities to famous characters. Entertainment lawyer Fred Fierst (who represents Conan) once said to me a concept of mine was "original enough." He also told me not to refer to my title character as So-and-So the Barbarian... because that sounded too much like Conan the Barbarian (which he did NOT represent at the time I was given that advice).

So yeah, dark elves are fair game. Differentiate your main dark elf from Drizzt and whatever other famous dark elves are out there, but no worries about archery, creepy spells, lack of warm-and-fuzziness and other typical dark elf traits.

Legendary Sidekick

The HAM'ster

Well, the advice stands either way. Don't look like you're ripping off an existing character whether the IP owner would go after you or not.

I also noticed your advice on using Disney characters was exactly what Fierst told me about my past MC sounding too Conan-like in name: it's not a problem unless my IP becomes successful, and regardless of who's in the right, the people who own the famous IP can afford the battle.


I agree that you can use dark elves; they've been around a lot longer than D&D. Norse mythology, in fact--the svartalfar.