Obtaining a Trademark on a Book Title

Trademark rights in a book title are not ordinarily available. Trademark protection doesn’t extend to titles of single pieces. Even massive sales of a single work cannot create the necessary source-indicating quality that a trademark requires. So if your book is a stand-alone piece, you likely cannot protect its title.

Trademark protection is available when it is applied to a book series, however. The Twilight books, the Harry Potter books, the Hardy Boys series, Goosebumps, Sweet Valley High – these are examples of series of books that use the same main title and then perhaps a lesser subtitle. The main title appears consistently throughout the series and can qualify for trademark protection.

If you are considering writing a book and want to attempt to get trademark protection, you can file a trademark application on an intent-to-use basis. As long as you actually intend to properly use the mark in commerce, you can file such an application and have it processed through the Trademark Office. If you are successful in the processing phase (called “trademark prosecution”), you will have 6 months to start producing and selling your books with that mark. If you don’t do it in the first 6 months, you can extend that time by another 6 months. In fact, you can extend the time out to 3 years in total.

Consider why you want to get a trademark on your title. Is it because you are going to write several books in a series and want to prevent others from writing knock-offs? Do you want to write one book and hopefully sell merchandise related to its story? Are you hoping to have ghost-writers pump out similar novels under the main title? These considerations, and others, should be shared with your trademark attorney when you discuss how you are going to proceed.