How to protect your book
The question which is mostly asked by authors too late, when they already are in some kind of dispute or someone send them later that they are in potential breach with someone else rights. That is bad, but great news is that the law gives authors in most countries various instruments to protect their intellectual property enshrined within their works.
Every succesful book writer has realised that the ideas, creations and stories are most valuable assets he or she has. Take steps to protect your intellectual property, take it seriously and you will not regret it later on for sure.
Everyone knows that particular symbol “©” but what exactly does it mean? How does it work?
Copyright is internationaly recognisable type of right, so it basically means that you do not have to worry about your copyrights in most countries if your work is protected in your country. Another advantage of copyright is that it is constituted automaticaly, thanks to international treaties regarding copyright, once the work is fixed in a medium.
What does it mean to be fixed in medium? Simply said, once your book is for instance put on paper or saved in your computer in any appropriate form, then this work is copyrighted. Yes it is simple as that.
An example of non-copyrighted work is the idea of story still waiting somewhere in your head to be expressed in real world. Idea itself can not be protected by copyright unless it is expressed in real world in some tangible medium. So if somebody write down “your” story first, then he got it copyrighted first. The dispute may arise once two same or very similar (like 99% similar) stories are written in almost same time.
Do I need to register my copyright to be protected? Not really, but it is advisable. Some countries or even cross country systems offer some sort of registration of copyright in their database. What is it good for? Even though your copyright exists once the work is expressed or fixed in medium, you can strengthen your position by registering this right of yours in these databases. It will help you prove the date in which you registered copyright, and thus the date on which the work was created. So you will have stronger position in case of dispute if someone tries to challenge your rights.
How long does copyright lasts?
Long story short – copyright of literal work lasts until author of book dies plus 70 more years after his death. Once your copyright has expired, anyone can use or copy your work.
Do I need to use symbol "©" to get copyright protection?
No, you do not. But you can use it to inform the public that the work is still protected by your copyright.
It can now seriously come to your mind how is trademark protection useful to you as book writer if copyright already protects your work.
Yes, copyright protects the exact expression of your work enshrined within book. However trademark can protect book title, characters or other specific of book in relation to their distinctiveness and for specific goods or services.
Book title trademark
There are certain situations in which trademarked book title can really help. The first and most obvious one is, that none else can name a book with same title as yours on protected territory. Second is that your book protection is stronger in the case someone else has similar book title and the content of his book is related to same topic.
Other example of good trademark use for your book is that once you have published series of book, you can trademark the book serie title as well. For example lets say you have written trilogy serie named “The Lion Warrior” which consists of 3 following books: The Man of the wild, The Tree saviour and The Green oasis. In this case you can register word sign “The Lion Warrior” as trademark for various goods including books and book series. This way you can get trademark protection for book serie as such and not only for individual book title.
Book character trademark
Lets say your main book characters name is Baeldon. After you publish your book, you want to also release bags, bracelets, plushies, pens, maps, with name Baeldon on it. If there is no earlier trademark registered for word sign Baeldon for these goods, everyone else can put the word Baeldon on such goods without your consent. You do not want that right? Trademark it for particular goods and your rights to Baeldon are more safe now.
What else can be trademarked?
Authors or companies mostly trademark their titles, or their famous iconic characters, but there are also other possibilities. Maybe you have created new type of animal inside your story and want to somehow use it out of your book or you have created some sort of new tool, race, nation, plant, magic type etc. All of these can in some cases become valuable in other industries and trademark can come in handy.
Design as such can be also protected if it meets requirements for registration. It must be original and novel. The difference between image trademark and registered design legal protection in short is, that design protects visual appearance, its novelty and originality and trademark protects the distinctiveness of sign.
Remember that the book cover is not yours but has also its own author. It is also independend work which is also protected by copyright. For instance illustrator who has prepared your book design and drawings must first give you consent to trademark or even use his work on your book. And no it is not automatic. If you paid illustrator money to draw you image for your book cover it does not mean he also gives you his consent to use and publish it on your book. Well in most countries it does not. So be careful and ask IP specialists first, otherwise you can end up even being sued even though you did not want to do anything wrong.
For all these IP rights we recommend talking about them with IP specialist first and then take legal actions to protect them. Wrong IP strategy can cause you many problems now or in future, so do not underestimate it. The golden rule in law is – the sooner you start to actively care about your rights, the less you will pay for not doing so later on.