Updated 4/22/2018

One of the most common questions about trademarks I answer on a daily basis is if one can trademark a book title or not.

The short answer is this: You cannot trademark the name of a single creative work. For example, if you write one, individual book called “I LOVE TRADEMARKS,” then you will not be able to trademark this title.

However, you can trademark a book title if you write a series of books using that title. In the example above, the name “I LOVE TRADEMARKS” could be trademarked if you wrote more than one book with that title, since it would no longer be considered a “single” creative work.

Examples of these Trademarks

Series of books that have a common name throughout the series can be trademarked. Let’s look at a few examples.

Harry Potter

The wildly successful Harry Potter franchise has, at the time of this writing, 54 live trademarks. These include everything from books and movies to video games and amusement parks.

However, if there was only a single book titled “Harry Potter”, it is unlikely these trademarks would exist. It is because of the fact that the books and movies are a series in which all titles contain “Harry Potter” that make this protection possible.

In this case in particular, because of its massive popularity, the protections are needed given the likelihood of someone creating and marketing unauthorized merchandise in an attempt to cash in on peoples love of the series.

Goosebumps

Another popular children’s book series that has been able to successfully attain trademark protection is the Goosebumps franchise, which is now owned by Scholastic. The series and all of its spinoffs total to, at the time of this writing, 195 books. That doesn’t include the audiobooks, toys, or the 2015 movie starring Jack Black (though, the original author Robert Lawrence Stine seemingly had no part in the movie’s creation or production.)

All told, the mark is protected across 13 different goods and services categories, with the original trademark application having been filed on October 18, 1993 and awarded on January 3, 1995.

As with Harry Potter, it’s the fact that Goosebumps is a series of works that allows it to receive trademark protection.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in trademarking a book name, you may also want to read these articles.

The Trademark Process

 

Trademark attorney Xavier Morales

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