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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Question Using a Trademarked Name in a Book Title

    Okay, I have wanted to self-publish for a long time and the idea has become more realistic with the popularity of e-readers. I have decided to create a couple works to market on Amazon's Kindle. I purchased a tutorial program, after a little research, on this whole process.

    Anyway, in one tutorial video, the author says to be careful and make sure you're not using trademarked names in your Kindle book titles. In fact, he says the name of his tutorial program has a "K" in the title because "Kindle" is trademarked by Amazon. He tells a story of calling one of his first books "_______ For Dummies", which is obviously an established brand that a publisher has put some effort into building up and gaining consumer recognition. Anyhow, he was contacted and told to rename his book.

    It's obvious that he was piggybacking off the branding/marketing that a publisher had developed. However, isn't simply including a trademarked name usually under fair use (assuming you're not trying to piggyback the branding)? If I want to title my book Why Everyone Should Own an iPad, then "iPad" is obviously a trademarked product name owned by Apple. For that matter, "Apple" is a trademarked company name. Am I seriously to name my book Why Everyone Should Own One of those Touchscreen Thingies Made by that Company Named After a Fruit? It's an idea so crazy one would only entertain it for marketing purposes.

    I see "iPad", "Word", "Microsoft", "iPhone", etc. used in book titles routinely. Is this any potential violation? Does every author obtain written consent? Does someone actually approve those in a timely manner? Do I have to pay Apple to use their product name? It would seem to me if I wanted to do a critical documentary (think Walmart: The High Cost of the Low Price) that they could simply refuse permission, if trademarks were allowed that much control.

    Any help in understanding my risks/limitations would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Default Re: Using a Trademarked Name in a Book Title

    Using a trademark in the title of a "how-to" guide for the use of a software product or computer hardware would normally fall under nominative fair use -- the use of somebody else's mark to refer to the actual product or service that is associated with the mark. Without nominative fair use, references (such as the "Touchscreen Thingies Made by that Company Named After a Fruit" example you provide) would become absurd. Nominative fair use is generally permitted as long as (1) the product or service referenced is not readily identifiable without use of the mark, (2) the mark us used only to the extent that is reasonably necessary to identify the product or service at issue, and (3) the use of the mark does not suggest that your work is sponsored by or endorsed by the trademark owner.

    As an example, if you take a look at a Dummies guide, you will see that they carefully incorporate any required symbols to indicate registration of a trademark or service mark, and that they expressly describe that they are an independent product not created or endorsed by the holder of the mark.

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