Can You Trademark A Book Title?
While you can not officially register a trademark for a single book, you can trademark the name of a series (like Harry Potter, for example.)
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 individual book titles as they stand alone. For example, if you write one, singular book called “I LOVE TRADEMARKS,” then you will not be able to trademark this title, as Trademark Applications typically don't cover single artistic works due to their unique nature.
However, you can trademark a series 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. This also applies to comic books, where the series title, rather than the title of individual issues, is often protected as a registered trademark. Trademark counsel often advises on the broader implications of these marks, ensuring no obvious conflicts with existing trademarks.
The wildly successful Harry Potter franchise has, at the time of this writing, 54 live trademarks. These trademark registrations cover not just the series title, but also characters, and terms unique to the Harry Potter universe. 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, leading to potential confusion. Sources indicate that these trademarks play a crucial role in maintaining the series' integrity and value in various services.
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. Trademark searches would reveal no potential conflicts with other singular book titles, allowing for the unique protection of the Goosebumps series title.
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.)As with Harry Potter, it's the fact that Goosebumps is a series of works that allows it to receive trademark protection.
Consulting a trademark attorney can provide further insights into trademark rights and the specific nuances involved in protecting a book series, including the artistic relevance of the titles and series.
If you're interested in trademarking a book name, you may also want to read these articles.
The Trademark Process
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