J.K. Rowling, full name Joanne Rowling, is an English screenwriter and author. She’s best known for her seven-part Harry Potter series, one of the world’s most popular book-to-film franchises. The Harry Potter franchise is hugely successful; the books have sold more than 500 million copies. (We also have covered the various Harry Potter trademarks.)
Rowling was born in England in 1965 to an aircraft engineer and science technician – her mother passed away in 1990 from MS, before the Harry Potter books were ever released.
Rowling began writing at an early age, writing her first novel at 11. She applied to study at Oxford in 1982 but ultimately studied Greek, French, and German at Exeter University. Rowling’s first postgrad job was as a bilingual researcher and secretary. She based many Harry Potter spells on Latin words she learned during this time.
Rowling first thought up the Harry Potter series while getting the train to London King’s Cross; she spent the next five years ironing out the details. After her mother passed away in 1990, she moved to Portugal to teach English; in 1992, she met her husband, Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes. This marriage produced one child and ended in divorce. While struggling with depression and living on welfare as a single mother, Rowling put her entire focus into writing, and in 1995 the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone was complete. She submitted the manuscript to around a dozen publishers, each of whom rejected it. A year later, the book was finally accepted and published by the London-based publishing house Bloomsbury. In 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was a best-selling book. Her financial situation turned around, going from poverty to a multi-millionaire.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the seventh book in the series) became the fastest-selling book in the franchise, selling more than 2.5 million copies in the first 24hrs in the UK.
In 1998 Warner Bros purchased the movie rights for the first two books, and the films earned an eye-watering 7.7 billion at the box office.
The Harry Potter brand is worth an estimated 15 billion today, including movies, merchandise, books, and even a theme park. Rowling also released two volumes in 2001, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ and ‘Quidditch Through the Ages‘ titles that were based on the Harry Potter series.
In 2008 she published ‘The Tales of Beedle The Bard.’ Rowling collaborated with playwright Jack Thorne and a director on another story for the stage, ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2‘.
In 2020 she released the ‘Harry Potter at Home’ initiative to entertain children during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Famous J.K. Rowling trademarks
J.K. Rowling is one of the best-selling authors of all time. Few authors have the same rags-to-riches path that J.K. Rowling took, and certainly not to the same degree. Though Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc owns most of the intellectual property associated with J.K. Rowling’s creations, J.K. Rowling does have a few registered trademarks.
One of the most significant trademarks owned by J.K. Rowling is her own name. The trademark application was submitted in 2000 for the following categories:
- Instructional and teaching apparatus
- Electronic books related to comedy, drama, adventure, and action
- DVD players and cassette players
- Video game machines for use with televisions
- Computer programs and software for providing sound and images in the field of entertainment or education
- Computer programs for transmitting or reproducing sound and images in the field of entertainment or education are recorded in the computer-accessible form
- Downloadable electronic children’s books; electronic publications, namely, electronic books or magazines featuring comedy, drama, action, and/or adventure recorded on discs, cassettes, tapes, CD-ROMs, and DVDs; electronic children’s books; refrigerator magnets
- Periodical publications, namely, newspapers and magazines in comedy, drama, action, and adventure
- Coloring books and scrapbooks
- Writing books and writing tablets
- Paper napkins, paper placemats, paper hats, paper tablecloths
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, trousers, shorts, jackets, sleepwear, and other clothing
- Board games, parlor games, wind-up toys, and other games
- Balls, bats, swim boards, roller skates, and other sporting articles
- Providing multiple-user access to a global computer network, such as online chat rooms and electronic bulletins
- Online blogs and community forums, in the general interest, allow users to post and share info, photos, audio, and video content
- Entertainment services related to interactive sites, including news sites
- Online games related to books and movies
- Online trivia about books, movies, games and toys, online games, and online contests provided through global and local computer networks
- Providing online computer games that are accessible by a telecommunications network; educational services
- Providing online e-books
- Internet-based social networking services, which feature the creation of personal profiles that feature social networking information
Related: Trademarking your own name
J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World
Following its first use in 2017, J.K. Rowling’s “Wizarding World” was trademarked in 2018. The trademark filing applies to:
- Toys and sporting goods, including games and playthings, action figures and accessories; plush toys; and Christmas tree ornaments
- Online retail store services featuring consumer goods, namely, books featuring action, adventure, and comedy
- Production and distribution of a film and film series, drama, motion picture theatrical films
- Film exhibitions
- Printed matter and paper goods, namely, books featuring characters from animated, action-adventure, comedy, and/or drama features, children’s books, coloring books, and children’s activity books
- Stationery, notebooks, diaries, greeting cards, trading cards, pens, pencils, color pencils, posters, mounted and unmounted photographs, bookmarks, calendars, gift wrapping paper, paper party decorations, namely, paper napkins, printed invitations
- Clothing for men, women, and children: shirts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, cloth baby bibs, robes, hats, caps, scarves, sleepwear, and pajamas
- Online retail store services in entertainment-related general consumer merchandise
- Motion picture films featuring comedy, drama, action, adventure, and/or animation, and motion picture films for broadcast on television featuring comedy, drama, action, adventure, and/or animation; prerecorded audio-video discs, and digital versatile discs featuring music, comedy, drama, action, adventure, and/or animation; stereo headphones, eyeglasses; cellular telephone covers and cellular telephone face covers; decorative magnets
- Retail store services in entertainment which are provided via the Internet and other computer and electronic communication networks featuring entertainment-related general consumer merchandise, marketing, advertising, and promotion services
J.K. Rowling’s signature
J.K. Rowling took the unusual route of placing her signature under trademark protection. In 2010, she applied for trademark registration for her signature. It’s registered for use in the following categories:
- Prerecorded DVDs and audio tapes
- Downloadable audio recordings
- Computer game software for use on mobile and cellular phones
- Downloadable electronic publications, namely, magazines and journals on literature, movies, reading, and literacy
- Books featuring comedy, drama, action, and adventure
- Stationery, including workbooks, wrapping paper, calendars, and more
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, trousers, and other clothing
- Board games, card games, and other games
- Internet-based social networking services which feature the creation of personal profiles that feature social networking information
J.K. Rowling is a creator of one of the most successful film and book series of all time; the Harry Potter franchise is worth an estimated 15 billion. You’d think that such a large value would translate to a large intellectual property portfolio, but most of Harry Potter’s trademarks are owned by Warner Bros. J.K. Rowling has just nine trademarks registered with the USPTO.