Have you come up with a catchy title for a book, a song, or even a movie and you want to be absolutely sure that no one else steals it?
You may be surprised to learn that you can’t actually copyright titles, slogans, or sayings. That’s right. No protection exists under the law.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship in a fixed and tangible medium, but they do NOT extend to titles, names, slogans, or other short phrases that you may be using to identify your work.
The reason is actually quite simple; titles are not inherently unique. Think of different songs you may know with the exact same title, such as Van Halen’s “Jump,” The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump,” and Kris Kross’ “Jump.” Here are some more examples from VH1 if you are inclined to check them out.
The point is that it would be impossible to offer federal copyright protection for titles that are simply too generic, common, or arbitrary and do not meet the minimum requirement for originality. Other items that you may be surprised to learn that may NOT be copyrighted include:
- Blank Forms
- Commonly Known Information
- Domain Names
- Formulas, mathematic principles, or algorithms
- Information taken from public or government documents
- Things considered useful like clothing and appliances
One alternative way that you may be able to obtain protection for a slogan, tagline, or title that uniquely identifies you as the source of a product or service may be to file for a trademark instead. Trademarks will protect such elements of your business or brand under specific circumstances.
As an author, artist, business owner, or content creator, protecting your unique works is obviously of utmost importance. However, intellectual property laws can be tricky, and the tools that you think may be available to protect yourself (for example, copyrighting a title) may not actually exist. That’s why it’s important to consult with a qualified attorney before you launch or release your work to explore other avenues and IP strategies that may be available to accomplish your goals.
If you need assistance getting started or have questions about your trademark and copyright strategies, we invite you to contact our intellectual property law firm at 888-666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.