Why should writers care about trademark law?

Giselle Ayala - Attorney at Law
4 min readMar 19, 2021

As a result of the popularity of the word “start-up” and the development of the technology of telecommunications, trademarks appear to be important only to tech companies. However, this is far from true. The reality is that individuals and companies should be equally interested in know about trademarks and their multiple benefits. In the case of writers, a good trademark could definitely change their lives. Before jumping into the subject, let me give you an interesting fact: J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books that have impacted millions of teens worldwide, earns millions from the ownership and licensing of several trademarks.

The protection of titles

The first aspect that is important to consider is that, unlike copyright law, trademark law protects titles. This means that even though you may not be declared the exclusive author, the title of a book and as a result of that two looks could have the same name, having a title or a character trademarked can allow you to own the exclusive right to use a title or the name of a character. Additionally, phrases may also be protected under trademark law. In fact, in 2019, Warner Bros Entertainment filed a trademark application for the phrase “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” However, the United States Patents and Trademark Office denied the application. In view of the USPTO, allowing the registration of a phrase so closely connected to the Harry Potter books would have been contrary to trademarks’ main purpose to inform consumers about the commercial origin goods or services. By admitting the registration of said phrase, consumers could be misled to believe that Warner Bros is associated or connected with the author.

Trademark Registration and Licensing

One of the most common sources of income for writers comes from royalties resulting from their books’ sale. However, a writer’s well advice can make more money by owning a trademark and licensing it to others. Even though there is no legal protection of titles or names in the copyright law scenario, these assets can be protected under trademark law.

The use of the title as a trademark

Giselle Ayala - Attorney at Law

Giselle Ayala is an attorney expert on immigration, business, marketing, and artist’s transactions.