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The title of a single book or creative work* is not registrable on the Principal or Supplemental Register.  The name of a series of books or creative works may be registrable if it identifies or distinguishes the source of the goods.   However, a term used in the title of a series of books is not registrable if it merely identifies a character in the books.   Here are some examples given in Section 1202.08 of the Trademark Manual of Examination Procedure:

  • In re Scholastic Inc., 23 USPQ2d 1774, 1778 (TTAB 1992) (THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS, prominently displayed on the cover of a series of books, has come to represent a source to purchasers and would be recognized as a trademark).
  • In re Scholastic Inc., 223 USPQ 431 (TTAB 1984) (THE LITTLES, used in the title of each in a series of children’s books, does not function as a mark where it merely identifies the main characters in the books).
  • In re Caserta, 46 USPQ2d 1088 (TTAB 1998) (FURR-BALL FURCANIA, used as the principal character in a single children’s book, was found not to function as a mark even though the character’s name appeared on the cover and every page of the story).
  • In re Frederick Warne & Co. Inc., 218 USPQ 345 (TTAB 1983) (an illustration of a frog used on the cover of a single book served only to depict the main character in the book and did not function as a trademark).

If you are the author of a book and wish to have a registered trademark for the title of the book some thought needs to be given about how to make that title part of a book series. More detail about trademark registration can be found on our website >> here. Our trademark attorneys can answer any questions if you need help.

* Examples of “single creative works” include books, videotapes, films and theatrical performances. (TMEP §1202.08)