Trademark rights protect the logos, symbols and textual representations that uniquely identify goods in commerce. The arrangement of words in a book title cannot be trademarked. Only the way the title looks can be protected as a mark, such as the way the font, design and colors combine to make it recognizable as the title of a particular book. Of course, there is intellectual property protection for the arrangement of words through the book's copyright, which protects artistic expression.
Determine that the design of your book title is unique enough to qualify for a trademark. Search the Internet for other visual representations of the words used in the title. Each state maintains a database of marks registered in the state that is accessible over the Internet. Search the state databases for conflicting uses. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also maintains a database of federal registrations. Access the database from the office's Web site to check for conflicts.
Offer the book for sale in as wide a market as possible. Set up a Web site and offer your book for sale over the Internet or list your book with a bookseller that has a Web site or an extensive physical distribution system.
Register the mark in every state the book will be sold. Protect your rights by registering the mark as sales expand into each state if you don't intend to immediately pursue federal trademark registration or only intend to sell the book locally. Go to the corporation or business division section of the Web site for the secretary of the state. Download the state trademark registration application from the forms and fees section. Fill out the application. Submit the application, the appropriate filing fee and a sample of the mark to the state.
Register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Go to the agency's Web site. Use the electronic registration system to submit a trademark application. Submit the application with the appropriate fee and the requested number of product specimens.
Submit an application to the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, for international recognition of your mark. Go to the WIPO Web site. Download an application and prepare it based upon the fact that you have a federal registration in the U.S. The registration is only good in member countries. Register your trademark directly with government authorities in any country that is not a member of WIPO, but where your book is sold.
Always use one of the trademark symbols whenever you publish your mark. The TM designation can be used whether or not you have an official registration pending. The use of the mark provides notice to the public of your claim of ownership and prevents infringers from claiming they used the mark innocently.
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Trademark Basics
- Citizen Media Law Project: Securing Trademark Rights - Ownership and Federal Registration
- FindLaw: Registering a Trademark
- The Association of the Bar of New York City: 21st Century Trademark Basics
- World Intellectual Property Organization: Trademarks Gateway
- Tanya Constantine/Blend Images/Getty Images