Register a book title in India

Do book titles come under Trademark or Copyright?

Online Legal India LogoBy Online Legal India Published On 09 Nov 2021 Updated On 16 Dec 2022 Category Copyright

Do not judge a book by its cover is the common saying. Literature doesn't always function accordingly as it is the title that attracts the reader initially. 

Literary titles do not fall under copyright protection. Publication of books has taken a huge pace with the increasing number of readers. Every day millions of books are printed or reprinted based on the requirements of the market.

There has been a huge demand for books but not generally physical books. The number of readers is increasing but the demand for printed books is not. The majority have shifted to online books or e-books to cope with the market demand. Efforts are taken to make old books available online too.

With everything being shifted online it has become important to have engaging and hooking titles. This makes it important to understand how to register a book title in India so that it can not be used again.

How does Trademark and Copyright function?

Copyright and trademark are two ways of protecting intellectual property. Three are various things that come under copyright and trademark protection. Intellectual property is the most sought-after for trademark or copyright.

It helps protect the work from getting copied or used by others. It aims to protect both the customer and seller from illegal products. It aims at bringing transparency to the market.

Copyright is used to protect the work from being used without the permission of the creator. The creator can take legal actions against people using the work or copying it without permission.

Trademarks on the other hand protect the physical attributes of the brand like a logo, a word, a tagline, etc. It allows for the sole ownership of the trademarked item and prevents the use of it anywhere or anybody.

How does copyright apply to Book titles?

Book titles are problematic spaces for copyrighting titles as they consist of words that can have multiple meanings. Not all words sound the same and not all the same sounding words mean the same.

It, therefore, becomes difficult to copyright all titles. There can be certain works that one can copyright, like Harry Potter. This is a name that is copyrighted and needs to be allied by the creator before using it.

There are also cases of meaning where the author might have used a certain word in a different sense and someone else might use it differently. Thus it becomes problematic to copyright book titles.

Based on the law a complete literary work can be copyrighted and not just the titles. One cannot use the entire work without permission.

How does Trademark help to protect Book titles?

This does not mean that a title can not be protected from being used. One can file for a trademarking of book titles which can not be used by anyone else in a similar way. A word can not be trademarked for a book title but the entire title can.

This can help in generating revenues not just from work but by-products of the work such as royalties. When a work inspires other work based on similar ideas and names it allows for revenue generation.

Trademarked titles have certain characters which all need to be trademarks from being used in games, shows, etc. Trademarking here will help in the sole ownership of the concept of the character in the work. 

It's always important to conduct a bit of research before taking any action. This is advised so that there will not be any hindrance to the process. This will not only help in knowing if there are similar works in the market but prevent the use of similar concepts.

It is important to know the market as it helps in trademark and protect a book title from being used or copied by others.


The important points that one should keep in mind while deciding on a book title are:

  • Titles cannot be copyrighted for generic terms,

  • Copyright does not mean trademarking a title,

  • A complete work can be copyrighted

  • Trademark can be used for titles under certain conditions,

  • Series of books can be trademarked,

  • Always conduct research on titles before making a decision on one.

A person needs to know the difference between Trademark and copyright. Based on this understanding one can decide upon what to do for their titles.

One can consult a Trademarking and copyright lawyer to get a better understanding of one's issue. A person with proper knowledge of the concept will be able to guide the right way.

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