re: An Update about Trademarking Words in Titles

posted 6/19/18

Dear Readers…

I have an update on last month’s upheaval regarding trademarking words in titles. What happened? An author attempted to trademark a single word, ordering other authors to remove it from their book titles. That move was countered by the Authors Guild, Romance Writers Association, and a pro bono law firm and is now in court. Alas, similar trademark grabs have rolled out. Here’s what’s happening so you can be informed and vigilant, defend yourself, and support other writers swept up in it. Please read on…


My May 9 post covers the original case if you need a refresher. For that case, legal action is ongoing, with early rulings in favor of RWA and Authors Guild. Author Jami Gold has a great up to date explainer with author/attorney Kevin Kneupper, who jumped to the rescue in an author-empowering way. What you need to know now: Others are trying this with words like foreverrebellion, and more. But authors are on alert and actions are challenged early, some before the trademark is granted. How? A writer built a twitter bot that scans the US Patent & Trademark Office’s database for active applications to register trademarks relevant to fiction authors, then tweets alerts. Follow the bot on Twitter, or bookmark the link. Kevin armed us with instructions and forms for challenging trademark petitions (see Jami’s post). If you get a letter claiming trademark on a word in your title, contact your publisher or writers organization asap. Not in a professional org? Join one! Authors Guild is for everyone; others focus on genre/category. (Writersandeditors compiled a list) Major orgs offer legal resources to members, others guide you to resources. Empower yourself.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Publishing Biz
posted by: The Editor
under: Publishing Biz
Comments to "re: An Update about Trademarking Words in Titles" | Add a Comment
    1. MaryAnn M. Butterfield wrote (on 06/21/18 at 9:41 am) :

      I’m astounded. I don’t understand how anyone would feel they have a right to trademark a WORD. Thanks for the heads-up!

    2. The Editor wrote (on 07/30/18 at 10:41 pm) :

      As of July 24, 2018, this case has been resolved and the copyright withdrawn. Perhaps Kevin Kneupper on Twitter: “There is now a final settlement in the “c–ky” case which resolves the lawsuit and withdraws the c–ky trademark – I’m very happy it was resolved without going through the entire process.”