When you trademark a book title, you are protecting the words as well as the identifying elements of your book, such as logos, designs, and slogans used to promote your work. In addition to directly protecting your work, trademark law stops people who try to use your work to promote their products and services. You don't have to register your work at the Federal level because rights begin with the use of an actual trademark in the US.

Benefits of Registering a Trademark

The first entity to use or display the mark in affiliation with the book, or the first to file an application indicating the intention to use it with the Patent and Trademark Office, usually has the sole right to use and register it. Some other benefits include:

  • Evidence of ownership.
  • Defines the jurisdiction of which courts apply in the event of a violation.
  • Provides notice of the trademark owner's claim at the nationwide level.
  • Can help in acquiring registration in other countries.


For authors, your book can lead to other opportunities, so you can think of it as a way of making your own intellectual property line. The term infopreneuring was coined by an author named Robert G. Allen. If, as an author, you look at yourself as an infopreneur, you seek ways to establish revenue streams from multiple forms of merchandising that all stem from your book, and also from your book's title. As an infopreneur, you don't just concentrate on writing a book that sells well, but you add in peripheral merchandising opportunities, possibly including speaking opportunities.

Merchandising Opportunities Linked to Your Trademark

A number of merchandise opportunities can develop from a successful book, including courses, websites, newsletter subscriptions, movie and TV projects, and audio books. As a published author, you should ideally hold onto trademark licensing rights for your book's title rather than assigning those rights to your publisher. Merchandising rights cover the right to license a number of things linked to your book, including:

  • Characters you created.
  • Games based on your book.
  • Toys based on characters and things in your book.
  • Themed clothing.
  • Home decor items.
  • Any connected services or goods.

Trademark licensing lets you assign the right to use your trademark in exchange for money.

Literary Agents and Lawyers

There are some differences between literary agents and literary lawyers. Literary agents represent writers and help them by putting their work in front of publishers. Literary lawyers, on the other hand, offer advice and counseling. They also help writers with contract negotiations. Because each aspect of a writing career differs, it isn't possible for one person to help you manage each part of marketing and publishing. Building a team that includes an agent and lawyer helps to create balance.

Only the original work of authorship, or the content of your book, is protected under copyright law. Both the Copyright Office and the US court system have established a policy that there are several things not covered under copyright law, including titles, pen names, ingredient lists, and short phrases, because they don't hold enough original expression to be worthy of protection under copyright laws.

Unfair Competition Law and Trademarking

The Unfair Competition Law and trademarking your title give you an extra way to maintain control of your title and even to make money from it. These laws cover similar forms of use in regard to designs like book jackets and identify words in your title. Trademark rights are assigned to the first person to stake a claim, so if you're choosing a title for your book, it's valuable to see if anyone is using the title you're considering as a trademark before continuing with it. A screening search will help you determine this information.

Screening Search and Intent to Use

When you do a screening search, it lets you see if someone else is already using your desired title as a trademark. Performing a full trademark search can be expensive, but doing an internet search to find obvious conflicts is an option for writers on a tight budget. If the mark, or title, you want is free, you would then file an Intent-to-Use application.

If you need help with trademarking a book title, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.