“A major newspaper published an article that has the exact same title as my book. Can I sue them?”

“A major newspaper published an article that has the exact same title as my book. Can I sue them?”

Q –

Hi Angela,

I was online reading the news this morning and a major newspaper has published an article that has the exact same title as my book. I came up with that title. I own it. My book is copyrighted! Can I sue them?

Thanks.

M.N.


A –

I’m glad you wrote to me before you wasted thousands hiring an attorney.

Book titles can’t be copyrighted. They can be trademarked but trademarking is very expensive and there’s no guarantee your trademark application will be approved.

I found your book on Amazon. While many authors assume their book’s title is entirely unique, that is very, very rarely the case. And, that includes yours. There are six other books on Amazon with the exact same title as yours. And, they were all published before your book. Authors should ALWAYS search Amazon for a book title they’re considering using. Search Google, too.

On a similar note, authors should never get so emotionally invested in their book’s title that they’re tempted to do something downright foolish if “their” book title appears anywhere else.

Awhile back, an author submitted a manuscript to BookLocker that had the same book title as a book we’d published years prior. When I notified him of the conflict, he got very testy with me, and accused me of finding his manuscript somewhere online (before he contacted us), and giving his title to another author to use, which is beyond absurd. He then insisted I remove the previous book from my inventory, and terminate the other author’s contract, which is even more ridiculous.

In the end, I told him to have his book published elsewhere. He was clearly a JERK and our website clearly states, “We don’t work with jerks.” I’m always happy to send the mean, nasty, and narcissistic authors to our competitors. 😉

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