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Taglines, Copyrights, and Trademarks

September 30, 2019 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I have a tagline I use on all my novels, do I need to get a copyright?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Great question.  The idea that you are asking this sort of question suggests that you are in the business of writing–not every writer is. Business is important to writers, but often they do not like to think about the business side of creativity.  You are thinking about business and that indicates that you have a good chance at making significant money from your creative craft. Part of being in business is protecting your intellectual properties.  Before you decide how to best protect your tagline, you need to talk to a lawyer who handles this kind of specialized legal business and can explain the difference between copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Before you talk to that qualified lawyer, you need to gather your information together. The process of gathering your information together will help you find the path you should follow. When you find a potential lawyer, that legal professional will want for you to provide a solid overview of your business concern.

Find the answers to the following questions and you will have a better meet-and-greet with the lawyer during your first consultation.

Your lawyer will ask you these questions:

  • What is your exact tagline?
  • Exactly how and when have you used the tagline so far?
  • In an initial search, when you google your tagline, does any result come up that indicates a potential existing conflict?
  • What are your plans to use the tagline in the future?
  • How will you routinely protect your tagline in the future?

Here are questions for you to ask the lawyer:

  • What is your hourly rate?
  • How much will this process cost?
  • How long will this take?
  • How many other authors have you worked with?
  • What exactly will I receive when you are finished with your part?
  • What do I have to do to make your part possible?
  • Jumping ahead, what are best practices to protect my tagline?
  • How will you help me routinely protect my tagline?
Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.


This is above my pay grade. You might want to ask an entertainment lawyer. The person I asked suggested it might be a trademark situation.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.


US copyright law does not cover tag lines. Short phrases or sentences are not considered original creative work as that would run the risk of actually copyrighting a phrase or word common in the English language. Just imagine what you’d have to pay Nike every time you told your kids to ‘just do it’.  And how would anyone enforce that anyway? Maybe big brother has that many eyes but individuals don’t.

You can Trade Mark a tag line. Marketers often do. Be sure you can live with a TM beside your tag line. It’s not something I’ve ever seen but I think it would strike me as officious and send an odd message.  Writing is a creative effort as well as a business effort but I don’t want to see overt signs of business in my reading for pleasure choices.  Besides, a Trade Mark requires mountains of paperwork and the near impossibility of enforcement.

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