I told my sister, who is a writer, that I was interested in writing an ebook and she told me I should go to the Library of Congress and trademark it.
I followed her advice and documented all of the steps so that other Side Hustlers or writers could do it faster and easier.
There are three things I want to note up front:
- You have to upload or mail the whole book at the end to complete the process. I thought I was just trademarking the name of the book but, apparently, it’s the whole book. So save yourself the stress I had by writing the book/ebook first and then follow the steps below.
- This took much longer to complete than I thought. I had to do it in two sittings and it took almost two hours to complete. You are able to save and go back and, hopefully, by following my steps, it will save you some time but make sure you have a chunk of time to do this.
- I just want to be clear that I am not a trademark lawyer nor do I have any authority or experience to give advice on how to fill this out so this is just one person’s experience and personal guesses on what to do. Please don’t take my suggestions as gospel and, if I did something incorrectly, I apologize in advance.
Here is what I did:
- I went to https://www.loc.gov/
- Searched “trademark”
- Couldn’t find it
- Went to google and typed: how do I trademark a book title at the library of congress
- Found this site that walked me through it and told me the correct URL: https://authority.pub/how-to-copyright-book/
- Went to https://www.copyright.gov/
- Click on the hyperlink for “Register; Register a Copyright”
- It took me to the Registration portal and I clicked on “Log in to the Electronic Copyright Office (eCo) Registration System”
- It took me to the following log in page and I went to the log in box on the upper right and clicked on “If you are a new user, click here to register.” https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov
- It timed out on Google Chrome. I tried several times and then a note popped up and said something to the effect of “any browser other than Firefox may not be optimal” so I logged in again on Firefox and it went right away to the next page
- I filled out the Personal Information page
- Next I filled out the Contact Information page
- Next was the Usage Terms about The Copyright Office not collecting credit card numbers- I clicked “Next”
- Next was Profile Confirmation- I clicked “Finish”
- It took me to the Electronic Copyright home page and said, “Welcome, Julie”
- At the top it said, “Please disable your browser’s pop-up blocker”
- I never use Firefox so I wasn’t sure how but I went to the top right corner of my browser where there a three lines underneath each other “as known as the Hamburger” and clicked that
- I scrolled down to “preferences” and clicked that
- Then I did “command + F” on my MacBook Air (if I remember correctly to my PC days, it’s “control + F” on a PC) to search and put in “pop up”. Nothing came up. I changed it to “pop-up” and it went to the line that says “Block pop-up windows” that was checked. I unchecked it. There wasn’t a save button so I hoped that it saved and selected the back arrow. Then I selected the forward arrow, hit “command + F” again and found that the “Block pop-up windows” was still unchecked
- Firefox had opened a new window for preferences so I just clicked on the previous window and it took me to the Electronic Copyright home page portal. At the top it had my case #
- At the portal, I scanned to see what it looks like I should do next and saw a section on the left hand side that said “Copyright Registration”, “Register a Work” “Standard Application” and then under that it said “Recommended for Most Works”. That looked good to me so I clicked on the hyperlink for “Standard Application”
- Still in the portal, it took me to a page that said, “Start Registration”
- The next page asked me to select “Type of Work” and has a drop down menu. The options are: Literary Work, Work of the Visual Arts, Sound Recording, Work of the Performing Arts, Motion Picture/AV work, Single Serial Issue”. Since I want to register a book (ebook and maybe print at some point), I picked “Literary Work”.
- Then the following text appeared:
|Literary Works include a wide variety of works such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, textbooks, reference works, directories, catalogs, advertising copy, compilations of information, computer programs and databases.|
These types of works usually explain, describe, or narrate a particular subject, theme, or idea through the use of narrative, descriptive, or explanatory text (rather than dialog or dramatic action). Generally, they are intended to be read; they are not intended to be performed before an audience.
This category also includes an article that has been published in a serial, but does not include an entire issue of a periodical or other serial publication. It said:
Important note: Beginning March 15th, you will no longer be able to register multiple unpublished works with the Standard application. Starting on March 15th, you may register up to 10 unpublished works using the new application for a “Group of Unpublished Works.” To learn more about the requirements for this option, go to https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/group-unpublished/.
- I clicked the box that said, “*Click the box to confirm that you have read the description above and selected the entry that best describes the ‘type of work’ you are registering.
- I clicked the “Continue” button
- Now I was at the Title page. It said, “Give the title(s) exactly as it appears on the work. If there is no title, give an identifying phrase, or state “untitled”.
- I clicked “New” and it took me to another page that said: “Give only one Title and Title Type at a time on this screen; then click “Save”.
Step 1: Click on “Title Type” to determine the type of title
Step 2: Select the Title Type. You must select “Title of Work Being Registered” at least once.
Step 3: Enter the title from the work that corresponds to the Title Type you selected.
Step 4: When you have finished adding all titles, click “Save” to save the title
- Here were the title types listed: Title of work being registered, Previous or alternative title, Title of larger work, Series title, Contents title
- I assumed that for a book I select “Title of work being registered” but I google that term to make sure and found on the US Copyright homepage at https://www.copyright.gov/eco/help-title.html the following definition: “Title of Work Being Registered. This is the title of the specific work you want to register. It is the main title by which the work is known. The work to be registered could be one work, a collection of works or an individual contribution in a larger work.” I also wanted to look up Title Type. I found a great URL on the copyright.gov site (https://www.copyright.gov/eco/help-registration.html) that explains it all. After reviewing their examples, I decided to select “Title of work being registered”.
- On the same page there was a text box that said “Title of this work”. I typed in my title name and hit “Save” up top.
- It just hung there and finally said “Timed Out” at the button. Hoping it saved, I went back to the main portal at the link below
- I saw on the left a link that said, “Search my cases” so I put in the my case number (luckily, I had copied it when I saw it at the top of the portal) and it took me right to it and the information had been saved so far but the page looked completely different. I saw on the top left that there was a box with the order you had to go through and the first line “Type of Work” had a check in the completed box so I went to the next line which was “Title” and clicked on that hyperlink and it took me back to the page where I was that froze on me. I hit “Continue” and this time it worked.
- The next page had one question “Has this work been published?”. Since I haven’t written anything but the summary yet, I selected “No” from the pull down menu. It automatically pulled in more questions and the next one was “Year of Completion (Year of Creation)”. I thought this was odd as I just said I hadn’t completed it but since it is early June now I put the current year because I thought that would motivate me to finish it by December. Under the question of Year of Completion, it had the note “If you have Preregistered your work under 17 U.S.C. 408(f) (and received a Preregistration number beginning with the PRE prefix), give the Preregistration number here. Click here for further information about Preregistration.” I clicked the hyperlink and it brought me here https://www.copyright.gov/prereg/help.html. It gave the following information:
IMPORTANT: Preregistration is not registration. Before you submit an application for preregistration, make sure you want to preregister your work rather than register it.
- For the vast majority of works, preregistration is not useful.
- Preregistration is not a substitute for registration. If you do preregister your work, you are required to register it when it is published.
- You may register an unpublished work for online, without preregistering it. The nonrefundable filing fee for preregistration is $140. Use Form PRE to preregister your work (available on the website)
You may benefit by preregistering your work if:
- you think it’s likely someone may infringe your work before it is released; and
- you have started your work but have not finished it.
I found it a little funny that it talks about Preregistration but then basically says it’s not worth it so I decided not to bother and continue on with the registration process and left the “Preregistraion Number” field blank and hit “Continue”.
- The next page was the authors page. It said to put all of the authors. Since it’s just me, I just put my name by selecting “New”.
- I filled out the “Individual Author” section (that was also an “Organization” which I kept blank) with my first and last name (middle name is not required), then it asked “Is this author’s contribution a work made for hire?” Since no one paid me to write the book I haven’t written yet, I selected “No”. Next it asked me my Citizenship. It then says “Or Domicile” i.e. place I live but they both have red asterisk so I just filled out both because even though it says “Or” I think they are both required. It then asks “Year of Birth” which I filled in and “Year of Death” which I kept blank and had the option to check “Anonymous” “Pseudonymous” and a line for “Pseudonym”. I left all of those blank and hit “Save”.
- The next page is “Author Created” and gives the following options: Text, Computer Program, Photograph(s), Artwork or a text box for “Other”. I selected “Text” and then saved. It said publication completion.
- I had to take a break for a few days so I went back in by clicking the link:
- https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov (not sure if that is unique to me or not)
- I looked at the top left and that it says I completed “Type of Work”, “Titles” and “Publication/Completion”. I clicked on the next hyperlink called “Authors”.
- It said, “Name the author(s) of the work being registered, and give the requested information. Generally, the application should name all the authors of the authorship being registered.” I’m the only author and I see my name already there. There is a button for “New” and one that says “Add Me” so I clicked on “Add Me”. It took me to a page that had my name filled out but there were other easy questions (date of birth, citizenship etc.) so I filled that out and clicked “save”. It then took me to a page that asked to check a box under author created “text”, “computer program”, “photographs”, “artwork” or “other”. I checked “text” and clicked “save”. Apparently I didn’t need to add myself again so I now see two of me. There is a delete option so I deleted one of me and hit “continue”.
- It was now asking; “Please identify the copyright claimant(s) in this work. The author is the original copyright claimant. The claimant may also be a person or organization to whom copyright has been transferred.” The options were “New” or “Add Me” so I selected “Add Me” and clicked “Continue”.
- The next box said, “Complete this screen to limit your claim if this work contains or is based on previously registered material, previously published material, material in the public domain or material not owned by this claimant. The purpose of this section is to exclude such material from the claim and identify the new material upon which the present claim is based. If your work does not contain any preexisting material, click “Continue” to proceed to the Rights and Permissions screen.” Since I don’t have any preexisting material, I clicked “Continue”.
- Checking the top left to see how far I was through the process, I see that I just completed “Authors” “Claimants” and “Limitation of Claim”. I look to be ½ way done. This is definitely taking longer than I anticipated.
- The next box said: “You may provide contact information for a person and/or organization to be contacted regarding copyright management information or permission to use this work. Important: If you prefer not to provide personally identifying information, you may list a third party agent or a post office box.” I don’t have a PO Box or an agent so I just put in my personal information and clicked “Continue”.
- The next one was a similar question about who to contact: “This is the person the Copyright Office will contact if it has questions about this application. Completion of the name, email address and correspondence address is mandatory.” This time I clicked the “Add Me” option and it filled everything in and I clicked “Continue”.
- Another similar question on the next page: “This is the name and address to which the registration certificate should be mailed. Completion of Individual and/or Organization Information, Address is mandatory.” Again I clicked the ““Add Me” option and it filled everything in and I clicked “Continue”.
- The next page was about Special Handling. It said: “ Special handling is expedited service that is available only to filers who satisfy one or more of the
compelling reasons below. Special handling also carries a significant surcharge fee. If you do not qualify for special handling service, please click the Continue button without completing this screen.
- Note: The significant special handling surcharge fee is non-refundable. Please click here to review the current fee.
- Special Handling (The information requested below is required for Special Handling claims
- Compelling Reason(s) (At least one must be selected)
- Pending or prospective litigation
- Customs matters
- Contract or publishing deadlines that necessitate the expedited issuance of a certificate” None of these reasons applied to me so I selected “Continue” and went to the next page.
- Compelling Reason(s) (At least one must be selected)
- The next page was asking me to sign and certify that everything I wrote was correct. It was correct to the best of my knowledge so I clicked the “I certify”…box and typed in my name and clicked “Continue”.
- The next screen was asking me to review my submission with a big note in bold that you can’t change it once it is submitted. I noticed that in some places I put my legal name “Julia” and in some places I put “Julie” so I clicked at each hyperlink in the upper left and fixed it and clicked “Continue”. Then I went back to “Review Submission” and clicked “Add to cart”.
- Then I clicked on the picture of the shopping cart at the upper right and clicked on “Checkout”
- At this point I see it costs $55 to register and you have the option of using a checking account or a credit card. I selected “Pay- Credit Card/ACH”
- A message came up that said: “Notice: You are now leaving eCO – the electronic Copyright Office site, and entering pay.gov, a U.S Treasury site where you can submit your payment information.” I clicked “Ok”.
- It took me to the payment info and where I thought I would put in my credit card, it’s asking me for my bank info. I was about to fill it out just to be done with it but I noticed that if I arrow done, it does let you put in credit card information. I filled it out and clicked “Continue with plastic payment”. Then a screen popped up with a summary of the charges ($55) and I clicked “Submit payment” at the bottom. It got kicked back because I didn’t see the mandatory box that said; “I authorize a charge to my card account for the above amount in accordance with my card issuer agreement.” so clicked the check box and hit “Submit payment” again.
- It said “Your request is being processed” for a few seconds and then a screen came up that said, “Payment successful. Click the “Continue” button to complete your registration.” so I clicked “Continue”.
- I came to a screen that said: “To complete your submission, please submit the required copy(ies) of your work. You may (1) upload electronic files if the work meets the requirements; otherwise, you must (2) send the work by mail (do not do both).” I haven’t actually completed my e-book so I don’t have any thing to upload or mail yet. There is a note that says you can mail the copies within 30 days so I am going to see if I can write my e-book in a month and submit the file to complete this process.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you did this and whether or not it helped save you some time and stress. If you did write a book, good luck and I hope you publish it and it’s a best-seller. I’ll write a future blog post about how to publish an e-book and I’ll put a link to my first e-book when I’m done with it.