We are a none themed restaurant but want to use these popular cartoon dogs to name our hot dogs on the menu.
You would be well-advised to hire an intellectual property attorney for a professional consultation regarding this question. There can be enforceable trademark rights in a fictional character. To determine the infringement of the trademark it must be shown that the fictional character has acquired a “secondary meaning”, and that there is a likelihood of confusion to be caused to the public by the defendant’s use of the mark. For example, Mickey Mouse is a character held to have acquired such a secondary meaning and is protected under trademark law. The trademark right goes to the appearance and name of the character, assuming they are well-delineated.
Generally, if you use someone else's trademarks without permission for commercial purpose there may be at least, trademark infringement and trademark dilution concerns.
You should discuss with an intellectual property attorney in a private consultation.
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