re: Can I Use That Title, Too?

posted 10/26/11

Dear Editor…

Is it OK to use the same title for a new YA novel as an already published adult novel?

Thank you,


Dear Laurie…

You can’t copyright a book title, so you’re *almost* free to use one that’s already on another book. Two points to consider: 1) Will anyone confuse your book with the other one? Yours is a different category, so probably not. 2) Has an association between the title and that other specific work been established in the public mind? Or, as the US Patent and Trademark Office puts it, did that title have “wide promotion and great success” that could’ve established a secondary meaning and thus be protected by some states’ “unfair competition” laws? Here’s an interesting peek at trademarking book titles, series titles, and characters on the USPTO site that offers a larger view of this issue.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Contracts, Publishing Biz
posted by: The Editor
under: Contracts, Publishing Biz
Comments to "re: Can I Use That Title, Too?" | Add a Comment
    1. Laura C. wrote (on 10/26/11 at 4:33 pm) :

      I always think it’s better to find something that hasn’t been used before–something unusual. But that’s just me. 🙂

    2. Laurie wrote (on 10/26/11 at 4:44 pm) :

      Thanks so much for the clarification and reference to the trademark law. You do a great job of providing concise answers to these tricky issues!

    3. Carol Riggs wrote (on 10/27/11 at 9:46 am) :

      Yes, I’d personally rather have a unique title. It’s frustrating when the one you want (that’s perfect for your book) is already out there, though!