Everything in our society is labeled. I am typing on a Mac computer. I am wearing Riders' jeans. I drive a Jeep. I have a Maytag oven.
Advertising is big business and companies dump tons of money into making their products a part of everyone's consciousness.
But I had to take all the brand names out of my book. My hero no longer has an iPhone. (Sniff.) It's not a big deal and I do understand. My publisher does not want to be sued.
Then I picked up Meg Cabot's Size 12 Is Not Fat. I love Meg Cabot's book. I haven't finished it yet, but so far she's mentioned several brand names such as Banana Republic, Fritos, and Jolly Ranchers. The use of those brand names makes the book seem all the more real. Her heroine is living in my society, where unique labels are plastered liberally on every item.
What's the difference between Meg Cabot's publisher and mine? Her book is published by Avon, which is an imprint of Harper Collins. I suspect that publisher has excellent lawyers and knows all the ins and outs of copyright law, because an author must be prudent.
Check out this post Can I Mention Brand Name Products in My Fiction?
Or even better (for romance writers) check out this post A Rose by ANY Other Name.
Not everything in Ms. Cabot's book bears a brand name. Her heroine works at a college in New York City that doesn't exist in real life--a wise choice considering the plot.
Even Meg Cabot has to be careful about some brand names. :-)