Hello! Recently, I began publishing fiction stories in different magazines, using a nick name (pen-name). In the future there's going to be a novel too. I wanted to check if there's some legal actions I need to do regarding the pen-name. Should I register it somewhere? Can someone steal it (publish under the same name)? Can someone claim they used it before and I stole it? (I found no writers with such name, but saw that a couple of people used it as a nickname in different social networks/forums).I'll be thankful for any advice on the matter!
I live in Israel but publish in USA/British magazines.
2 Answers from Attorneys
If you wish to protect your pen name, you should do that in the country where you work, that is USA, UK and I believe in Israel. Can a pen name be a trademark? It could be if the pen name becomes identified with the person using the name and/or the books authored under the name. If the pen name is also the name of a living individual, however, then you must either obtain that person's consent or file a disclaimer stating that the name is not that of any real person. Also, if you do not register the pen name as a trademark, a pen name may be entitled to protection under laws governing unfair competition, should someone want to use it for similar activity. Please consider also the implications of registering copyrights of your works at the US Copyright Office, and under which name the works should be registered.
Hope I could help with the answers.
Hanni Rosenzweig, IP lawyer in Israel
The above is not intended as specific legal advice
Natalia, if you publish in the US then you should file for copyright registration in the US. Unlike the U.S., not all countries require or even have copyright registration. For example the UK and Israel do not have such a process nor require it.
As far as using a pen name, my colleague is correct in that you may register a pen name as a trademark.
My firm is based in the U.S. and we speak Hebrew. We will be happy to assist you in registering and protecting your work.
Roman R. Fichman, Esq.
www.TheLegalists.com │ @TheLegalist
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