Trademark a Book Title? Yes, It’s Possible.
An author’s work is as precious as a child is to a parent. In fact, many authors will tell you that their work is their baby. From the moment the idea was conceived, it was nurtured and held closely. The rewarding part is sending it out into the world to be enjoyed by many. However, this can also be the scary part because, like a parent, every author wants to protect their baby.
Of course, copyright protects the content of a work, the story idea, as well as the literary and graphic depiction of characters. But copyright does not protect titles of works since titles are considered short phrases which are not afforded copyright protection. Names, slogans and short phrases can, however, be given trademark protection. So, can authors seek trademark protection as an additional measure to protect their most valuable asset?
Can You Trademark a Book Title?
Yes, but keep in mind that not all book titles are eligible for trademark registration. Remember that names, slogans, tag lines and short phrases can be trademarked if they denote the source of a product or service. Therefore, while an individual book title can not be trademarked, the title for a series of books can. In this instance, the title serves as a brand for the series of books. “Harry Potter,” “…For Dummies,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” are all trademarked book series under class 16.
Can You Trademark Your Book Title Without Creating a Series?
Yes. Even if you don’t intend to create a book series, you can still trademark your book title if it’s associated with other goods and services. Do you have a podcast based on your book? You can seek registration in Classes 9 (downloadable MP3 files) or 41 (entertainment services, specifically podcast). Maybe you have a website based on your book that offers educational and entertainment services (Class 41). What about promotional material? It is possible to seek trademark registration of your book title if it is the brand source of clothing and other apparel (Class 25), mugs and cups (Class 21) or even toys (Class 28). It doesn’t stop there. Several other trademark classes of products and services may apply to your book title. You can review the USPTO ID Manual for the list of trademark classes that cover any other products or services you intend to sell under your book title.
Additionally, this does not only apply to book titles. You can trademark any one of your book’s characters as well. The same rule applies; the character must be the brand source for a product or good. Popular Harry Potter characters like Hermione Granger, Dobby and Dumbledore are all trademarked for various classes pertaining to promotional material like the ones named above.