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BH
BH, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 313
Experience:  IP and Entertainment Attorney
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I am curious whether you can copyright a new "word" - I own

Customer Question

I am curious whether you can copyright a new "word" - I own trademarks for "words" that I plan to eventually use as company/product names, but this word would not be for a product, it would be a general term that could encompass or be a new category for many products that already exist, not just mine! PS - I am looking for a reasonable priced IP lawyer that has experience with licensing contracts, royalty agreements, etc... Thanks - Cindy Entin --***@******.*** --(###) ###-####
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Expert:  BH replied 1 year ago.

Hi Cindy,

Unfortunately, single words and short phrases cannot be protected by copyright. You are correct that you can trademark the word in a particular category, but if the category does not yet exist then it would not be possible to do so. Here is a good overview of copyright law. As you will note on the third page, words and short phrases are excluded. Let me know if you need further information or assistance.

As for your second question, I can private message you to see what services you need or you can also try lawyers.com or another legal listing site for lawyers in your area.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi. Thank you for your prompt response. In your answer you referred to "a good overview of copyright laws" but I am not seeing any attachment or extra copyright information. Also, when I said the word I created was a "new" category, I meant that it was a new word I have created that uniquely describes a new category of fashion accessories that I have created! :) The word itself would fit under a USPTO "trademark category". The reason I was investigating a copyright as opposed to a trademark is because I don't have plans at this time to sell a product "using" this word, thus if I trademarked it I would have to keep paying every 6 months for ownership and I can only do that a limited number of times, correct?? A little extra confusion: one of the products that I am trying to license to a high fashion brand (having major NDA issues!!) would fall under this new "category of fashion accessories). Thus, I want to present my product and share my "new unique category" but be able to protect my ownership of this new word. Also, I am an author and own the copyrights to the written words of my books. If the title of a book is one word, for example "Pinkalicious" doesn't the author own the copyright to that word?? Or is it a completely different scenario entirely because it is a title of a book and the book itself is copyrighted and that includes the title?? :) Thanks for your help with these questions - I really appreciate it. And yes, I would be interested in getting a PM from you to find out more about what particular legal areas you focus on, your fees., etc... Thanks - Cindy Entin
Expert:  BH replied 1 year ago.

Sorry about that! Here is the link: http://copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf

You are correct that you can file an "intent to use" trademark application but you would need to continually extend it until you can provide evidence of use in commerce. Unfortunately, trademarking the word is really the only protection that you can get right now. A title of a book does not give you any special protection in the title itself. There are many books with the same title. Your best bet to protect the word when in discussions with potential licensees is to add it to the NDA. That is, you can contractually obligate someone not to use the word and if they do, you can sue them for breach of contract.

Expert:  BH replied 1 year ago.

It seems as though they have removed the private message functionality from our end. Let me know if you are able to PM me to discuss.