How to Trademark a Book Title

Julian Gonzalez

Associate Patent Attorney
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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? The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. 

In general terms, you cannot trademark a singular, stand-alone book title. However, if your book is part of a series, you can look into trademarking your books series title. This is because of the underlying reasons why trademarks are granted in the first place. 

Why Trademarks Are Given Out

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

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

Title of a Single Work Refusal

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 title, and not as a trademark.

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 Can Be Given Trademarks

If you plan on creating a books series out of your book, then there is a good chance you can get a trademark 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 make sure your book will qualify under USPTO definitions as a book series rather than a singular, stand-alone book. 

First, you will need to submit actual evidence that your book 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 to protect your underlying creative rights. Trademarks provide the greatest legal 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 trademark 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 Searches

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

The USPTO has a database named the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). The TESS database houses all trademark registrations and pending applications. The USPTO has published some tips for searching this database. Try out different variations of your book title to ensure you have as comprehensive results as possible. 

Prepare and File Your Trademark Application 

Next up, draft and submit your trademark application using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) forms. You can 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 application has been submitted, a USPTO attorney assigned will review and analyze your trademark application. You will want to promptly answer any questions that may be posed. 

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. 

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