How Do I Protect My Title?

titleThe day you land on a name for your novel is pretty exciting, especially when you Google it to find “no results,” or at least ones that aren’t already book titles. You revel in your ability to craft such original wisdom, but you fear telling the world only to have that light bulb plucked from your noggin to be claimed by another writer.

How do I copyright or trademark my book title you ask? Well, this is a difficult one in that protection for a book title is not absolute. Let’s start by getting some of the terms right and what they cover.

Copyright has to do with the rights of another to copy your work. The copyright is for the book as a whole, not the title. You do not have to formally register your novel with anyone to have the copyright, but it helps with litigation if that monster ever comes stomping around in your zen garden. In short, when you put the pen to paper or save your file, your words are copyrighted.

Check out this site on Copyright Myths for more answers.

Trademarks help with brand establishment for specific goods and services. The trademark can be for the title but is most often for the brand of your novel or the name of the series, not the individual title. Think “Hunger Games” versus “Catching Fire.” If you’re going to write a series and have action figures and T-shirts then you should trademark your awesome series name. Like copyrights you do not have to register your trademark but, you know, monsters.

For more on trademarks check out CopyLaw.

Still asking “How do I protect my precious title?” Well, if like me, your novel is intended as a single work then I am probably just going to have to suck it up and put the title out there. That said, trademarks can be established with the use of they symbol and are a first come first serve situation. On that note, the name of my novel is:

Father’s Creed™

I don’t know if there will be a Father’s Creed 2: Electric Boogaloo or a Mother’s Creed that continues this story, and I doubt that anyone will produce action figures of German Baptist farmers, but I am old enough to know I don’t know what the future holds, so I am covering my assets.

Did this article help answer your questions? Check out other articles on the New Writer Resources page.


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