Legal Question in Intellectual Property in Pennsylvania

I wrote a children's book and self published it in 2011 entitled "The Little Gray Spider". I received an email from another author stating that she also wrote a book in 2009 with the same name, hers is copywrited. She stated because my book came up first in the google search and similar that I should change the name of my book. I looked at the content of her book and it was not similar to mine. Does she have the right to request that I change the name of my book simply because it is above hers in google search?

Asked on 11/16/12, 10:44 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gerry Elman Elman Technology Law, P.C.

Hello, neighbor,

In general, the title of a book is not protected by the book's copyright.

So is there some other legal tool that would provide an author with exclusivity as to the title? How about the branch of unfair competition law that relates to trademarks?

Well, it is "black letter" doctrine that a book title doesn't (without more) serve as a trademark, either.

Can a trademark ever arise from books? Well, yes, when the books are a series with their own identity.

Beware that multiple factors could affect the result, so avoid considering anything on a public forum such as this to be actionable legal advice.

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Answered on 11/16/12, 5:54 pm

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