How to Trademark a Book Title

Julian Gonzalez

Associate Patent Attorney

Books can be incredibly important and valuable works to their authors. Do you have a book you are working on wondering if you should trademark the book title, or if you even can trademark a book? The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. 

Generally, you cannot trademark a singular, stand-alone book title. However, if your book is part of a series, we can look into trademarking your books series titles as part of our attorney-client relationship. This is because of the underlying reasons why trademarks are granted in the first place. 

Why Trademarks Are Given Out

According to trademark law, trademarks are recognizable signs, designs, or expressions that identify specific goods and services of a particular source as distinct from others.  The primary purpose of trademarks is to prevent potential conflicts and consumer confusion by ensuring two confusingly similar businesses do not operate under the same name or symbol. 

Women discussing legal documents

Because books do not typically identify the underlying source of goods and services, book titles typically cannot be trademarked. Playing this out further, the sources of literary works are the publisher. So book titles would not identify the underlying source of the goods or service. 

Title of a Single Work Refusal

A title of a single work refusal is what happens when the USPTO refuses to register a trademark because the sample of how the trademark is actually used demonstrates that the trademark is being used solely as the title of a single creative work, such as a book’s title, and not as a trademark.

Based on trademark law, single creative works are not eligible for trademark approval. Typically, single creative works are things like books, DVDs, songs, audio CDs, or films. Creative works such as these are typically not considered trademark eligible unless the single work is actually considered part of a series.

Moreover, if the creative work is a type of work in which the content significantly changes between each edition, performance, or issue, it can be eligible for trademark protection

This means that single creative works under these parameters don’t include publications that are periodically issued like magazines, newsletters, comic books, or guidebooks. Even a new edition of a book that changes significantly from one edition to the next will not be classified as a single work under trademark law. 

Why Book Series Titles Can Be Given Trademarks

If you plan on creating a books series titles out of your book, then there is a good chance you can get a trademark book titles for your book series. This is because a book series is considered a “brand”, and therefore the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is more willing to grant trademark rights to a series. A book series is selling not just a singular book, but an entire brand of a book series.

This brand includes the books, but likely also includes other supportive goods for the book series that are sold in connection with the book series. 

Books on the shelves

How to Prove Your Book Will Be a Book Series

There are some important steps to take to trademark a book title and make sure your book will qualify under the Patent and Trademark Office definitions as a book series rather than a singular, stand-alone book. 

First, you will need to submit actual evidence that your book’s title is not just a stand-alone book, but rather is part of an underlying book series. This type of evidence could be the art jacket for two separate books in your book series.

Importantly, evidence that you merely intend to use the trademark will not suffice. You must show that the trademark will be used as a source identifier for the actual book series, which can be distinguished from the individual book titles within the series. 

Why Trademark Rights are Important

Trademarks can provide some very important legal rights, which is why it can be very beneficial to create a book series title to protect your underlying creative rights under trademark law. Trademarks provide more protection over creative works like books. Legal rights over your book title can be great if you plan on marketing your book and the underlying series and brand on a broader scale. 

Federal trademark registration for your book title with the USPTO is the best rights for your book series. By obtaining federal trademark registration, you will have the legal rights to use that trademark in connection with your underlying book series, and any associated products. 

This will also allow you to pursue legal action against potential infringers on your important book series. This means you will be able to file legal action in a federal court. You will be able to obtain monetary damages for the harm that has been caused to you because of the infringing use that may have taken place. 

How to Trademark Your Book Title

If your book is not just a stand-alone book but rather will be a series of books, then it is a great idea to pursue trademark registration. 

Lawyer trying to search how to trademark a book title

Conduct A Trademark Search

The first step in getting a trademark for your book series is to do an internet search or a thorough search of the USPTO’s database to make sure there are no other identical or confusingly similar book series names. 

The USPTO has a database named the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) which will do much better than just an internet search. The TESS database houses all trademark registrations and pending applications. The USPTO has published some tips for doing a trademark search in this database. Try out different variations of your book title during your thorough search to ensure you have as comprehensive results as possible. 

Prepare and File Your Trademark Applications

Next up, your trademark attorney can draft and begin your trademark application process using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) forms. As part of our attorney-client relationship, we can help you choose between the TEAS regular or the TEAS plus form depending on whether you want to be able to write out the specific classification of goods or services associated with your book series, or if you can choose from a list of classifications. 

Once your trademark application has been submitted, a USPTO trademark attorney assigned will review and analyze your trademark applications. You will want to promptly answer any questions that may be posed by the examining attorney. 

After some time, once any questions have been answered, your trademark will be published in the Official Gazette. So long as no one files any complaints against your trademark, the USPTO will issue you a trademark certificate of registration along with the publication in the Official Gazette.

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