I had hoped to avoid the particular topic I’m about to broach completely; however, as I always talk to you guys about branding, I would be remiss if I ignored the current publishing climate and didn’t take the time to discuss book branding as it relates to your cover and title.
As you likely know, the publishing industry is currently in an uproar over an author who has reportedly trademarked a certain word and is now attempting to prevent all other authors (not just indie-authors) from using said word in book and series titles. I will not be speaking directly to this situation as the legalities are murky, I do not know all of the specifics of the case, and I am not a lawyer or an expert in copyright or trademark law. However, I am a veteran of the publishing industry and a branding specialist, and what I can do is try to give some of you a little perspective on how things generally work in the publishing world and in the plainest terms possible.
Authors are, understandably, upset. Even those unaffected by the current trademark debacle are in a panic. I’ve seen questions all over the place, on Facebook, in forums, with authors scared this could happen to them and wondering if they should start trademarking their own titles.
The quick and dirty answers (in my professional, but non-legal, opinion) are: A. Yes, it could happen to you, especially if everyone panics and starts registering trademarks willy-nilly. B. No, you should not start filing trademarks on your titles. Not yet, and possibly not ever. (SIDE NOTE: There is a difference between copyright and trademark. If you aren’t sure of the difference or whether you are violating one or the other, consult a lawyer. Always.)
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