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:
Here are questions for you to ask the lawyer:
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.
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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