Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases
Table of Contents
- Subject Matter Of Copyright
- Copyright Office Records Listed Alphabetically By Title
- Protection Under Trademark Or Unfair Competition Laws
- For Further Information
Names, titles, and short phrases or expressions are not subject to copyright protection. Even if a name, title, or short phrase is novel or distinctive or if it lends itself to a play on words, it cannot be protected by copyright. The Copyright Office cannot register claims to exclusive rights in brief combinations of words such as:
- Names of products or services
- Names of businesses, organizations, or groups (including the name of a group of performers)
- Names of pseudonyms of individuals (including pen name or stage name)
- Titles of works
- Catchwords, catchphrases, mottoes, slogans, or short advertising expressions
- Mere listings of ingredients, as in recipes, labels, or formulas. When a recipe or formula is accompanied by explanation or directions, the text directions may be copyrightable, but the recipe or formula itself remains uncopyrightable.
Copyright protection under the copyright code (title 17, section 102, U.S. Code) extends only to original works of authorship. The statute states clearly that ideas and concepts cannot be protected by copyright. To be protected by copyright, a work must contain at least a certain minimum amount of authorship in the form of original literary, musical, pictorial, or graphic expression. Names, titles, and other short phrases do not meet these requirements.
The titles of registered works are filed alphabetically and appear in that order in the indexes and catalogs of the Copyright Office.
However, the presence of a title in the Copyright Office registration records does not mean that the title itself is copyrighted or subject to copyright protection. In many cases, our records show the same or closely similar titles for entirely different works.
To search Copyright Office registration records and recordation information on monographs, serials, and documents from 1978 forward, go to Search Copyright Records at www.copyright.gov.
Some brand names, trade names, slogans, and phrases may be entitled to protection under the general rules of law relating to unfair competition, or they may be entitled to protection and registration under the provisions of state or federal trademark laws. The federal trademark statute covers trademarks and service marksthose words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguish them from those of others. The Copyright Office has no role in these matters.
For questions on trademarks or for information on registering a federal trademark, write to:
Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313-1450
Or call the Patent and Trademark help line at (800) 786-9199 (tty: (571) 272-9950). Internet information is available at www.uspto.gov
Information via the Internet
Frequently requested circulars, announcements, regulations, other related materials, and all copyright application forms are available via the Internet. You may access these from the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov.
Information by telephone
For general information about copyright, call the Copyright Public Information Office at (202) 707-3000. The tty number is (202) 707-6737. Information specialists are on duty from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., eastern time, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. Or, if you know which application forms and circulars you want, request them 24 hours a day from the Forms and Publications Hotline at (202) 707-9100. Leave a recorded message.
Information by regular mail
Library of Congress
Publications Section, LM-455
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000