Circular 34

Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases

Table of Contents

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:

Subject Matter of Copyright

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.

Copyright Office Records Listed Alphabetically by Title

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

Protection under Trademark or Unfair Competition Laws

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 marks—those 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

For Further Information

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

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

Write to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
Publications Section, LM-455
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000

Revised February 2006.

Home  |  Contact Us  |  Legal Notices  |  Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)  |  Library of Congress

U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
(202) 707-3000