book name as Tag line for my website -- intellectual property issues


I am planning to use the name of a book (about 3-4 yrs old) as the tag line of my website.
Its three words long.

What are the IP issues here, how do i know if i can use it legally or if the author doesn't allow the name to be used as the tag line of my website.

thanks in advance.

Legal Intellectual Property

asked Feb 16 '10 at 10:44
445 points
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  • what's the title? – Tim J 14 years ago

3 Answers


You need to be careful as to how you use any work that someone else has copyrighted but it appears that titles of books seem to be a little trickier that other works. This article over at Pub Law seems to say that titles are not protected as copyrighted material (Taken from Pub Law reference below):

"Copyright Office Regulations and judicial decisions have made it clear that titles are only the equivalent of short slogans and therefore a title does not contain sufficient expression to be worthy of copyright protection"

Now, the title could be a trademark but that seems to only apply to a series of books not a single title. Again, same Pub Law article quote:

"A publisher cannot obtain federal trademark registration for a single title, but a series title may be federally registered."

I guess you need to figure out if the author either registered the title as a trademark (since it might be used to identify something else) or it's a series of books. You can search for trademarks here.

This is a pretty interesting question since it is not handled consistently.

answered Feb 16 '10 at 11:17
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • i checked, the line is not registered as trademark. its also not a series and a one time book. i'm not sure if its registered as service mark or if the author will come after me accusing me of misleading or causing confusion by using the title. – Syed 14 years ago
  • That's good that you checked. He could still come after you. At this point, you might want to consult a lawyer just to get an opinion. – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago


Have you considered doing a trademark search?

I would also review the trademark faq to get some ideas about the validity of using a pre-existing phrase.

answered Feb 16 '10 at 11:20
Jim Galley
9,952 points
  • i searcehd it, its not registered as trademark, i am not sure how to find if its registered as service mark, also see my comments above. – Syed 14 years ago
  • from the trademark faq: A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Throughout this booklet, the terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks. the same search applies whether it is a trademark or "service mark" – Jim Galley 14 years ago


Have a back up name planned... but go for it. Then if you get contacted you can take it down and tell the press what happened and use the whole experience as a marketing tool to promote your website.

answered Apr 15 '11 at 18:28
Long Winter
271 points

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