Can I Trademark the Title of My Book?

If you are an author, you might wonder if you can trademark the title of your book. After all, you want to protect your work and prevent others from using it without your permission. But can you really trademark a book title? The answer is: it depends.

a curved library wall filled with well worn books on one side and a railing on the other

If you are an author, you might wonder if you can trademark the title of your book. After all, you want to protect your work and prevent others from using it without your permission. But can you really trademark a book title? The answer is: it depends.

Book Titles Cannot Be Trademarked

Let’s just get this out of the way really quick. The general rule is that book titles (unless part of a series) cannot be registered as trademarks. The reasoning behind this is that trademarks are really meant to function as the identifiers of goods and services, and book titles don’t really fulfill that function.

For example, take the novel, “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The title, in reference to just that one nove,l simply does not identify other goods or services. We don’t think to ourselves, “Oh, THE GREAT GATSBY brand of literary fiction”, or “THE GREAT GATSBY brand of green lights.” Instead, we merely think of that novel. Because it does not identify any goods or services (like, say HP       brand computers or HARPERCOLLINS brand of books) it is not a trademark.

Book Series Titles Can Be Trademarked

While the law does not allow for a trademark on an individual book title, an author can trademark a series of books. This is because they serve as an identifiable brand. Common examples include the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, “Goosebumps”, and of course,  the “Harry Potter” novels.

Book series titles can be trademarked because they indicate a consistent source and quality of goods. Consumers can recognize and associate the series title with a particular author, publisher, or genre. They can also expect a certain type of content or style from each book in the series.

To trademark a book series title, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Select a distinctive and original name for your series.

  2. Make sure the name is not already registered or used by another entity in the same category.

  3. File an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) indicating your intent to use the name for a series of books and pay the filing fees.

  4. When requested, provide evidence of actual use of the name for at least two books in the series.

  5. Pay the required fees and wait for approval from the USPTO.

Why Trademark a Book Series Title?

There are many benefits of trademarking a book series title, such as:

  • Evidence of ownership and exclusive rights to use the name

  • Protection from infringement and unfair competition

  • Ability to license or sell the name to others

  • Opportunity to create merchandising and branding opportunities

  • Recognition and reputation among consumers and fans

As an author, you should consider trademarking your book series title if you plan to write more than one book under the same name, and if you want to establish a loyal fan base and generate revenue from your work.

Other Ways to Protect Your Book Title

If you don’t have a series of books, you can still protect your book title in other ways, such as:

  • Applying for a trademark for related goods or services that you sell under your book title

  • Registering a domain name or creating a website for your book

  • Creating social media accounts or blogs using your book title

  • Offering educational or entertainment services related to your book

  • Producing merchandise or products based on your book

Please note that these methods do not guarantee that no one else will use your book title for their own purposes. They only help you promote your work and create awareness among potential readers.

To summarize, you cannot trademark an individual book title unless it is part of a series of books that serves as a brand name, like the HARRY POTTER series. Trademarking a book series title can help you protect your work and create more opportunities for your career as an author. But if the title is not going to be a part of a series, you can still trademark it for secondary items, like merchandise or educational materials.

If you have a book title, and you’d like to discuss whether it can be trademarked or how else you can protect it, contact us for a consultation.