Did you know the phrase “Book Trailer” is a Registered Trademark? (Update)

I didn’t! 😮

Last week, I uploaded the trailer for my book to a website called “Book Trailers.”  I was in for a surprise and a big lesson.

At the “Book Trailers” site, you upload your video for review, streaming from YouTube. After it has been approved, you are welcome to manage your page, add tags, post articles or add more videos. You could also browse other people’s posts and clips.  I thought, why not? This was another way to promote my book.

Hours after I posted my first article on their website “How to create your Book Trailer “, I got a comment. I was happy I was getting traffic already. The person leaving the comment praised the article, but also told me that the word “Book Trailer” was a registered trademark and that I should mention that on my blog. This person also informed me that if I was selling a product under that term, my video could be removed from sites like You Tube (I am paraphrasing here). I thought it was very kind of him/her to give me this information.

However, seconds later I was in awe!

“Say what?  ‘Book Trailer’ is a registered trademark. What are you talking about? This is like saying, you want to trademark ‘hot dog’ or ‘book review’, isn’t it?” 😕

Since I didn’t understand how that could be possible, more so, knowing that there were hundreds of sites using this term to describe their book videos, I decided to investigate further.  I did my online research on “Book Trailer a registered trademark.” I got my answer.

I found out that COS Productions (short for “Circle of Seven Productions”) trademarked the term “Book Trailer” a few years ago, when the phrase didn’t actually existed. I also learned that they are the owners of the site (Book Trailers) were I uploaded my video. The funny part was that I didn’t realize until later that the person providing the information about this term, was in fact COS Production 😦 I am a little absent-minded sometimes.

I spent a few more hours doing research, but after reading about Trademark on Wikipedia, stating that “The owner of a trademark may initiate legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark” I was convinced that I rather be safe than sorry.

Consequently, based on the new information, I decided to change the title of my blog post. It is now called “How to create a Trailer for your Book” 😉  I also had to revise all the posts and videos I had already uploaded.

The good news is that this person from COS Production replied to me explaining that I could ask for permission to use the term. I am not sure yet how to do this or how much it will cost. I promise I will keep you post it.

—————————————————————-

Update:

I didn’t have to wait long to hear back from COS Production. Sheila, the owner of the company was the one to reply. I was surprised by her disposition and generosity.

As we now know, “Book Trailer” is a registered trademark, owned by COS Production. Sheila, the owner, could be charging a fee to use this term or enforcing her ownership rights. Instead, the only thing she requests is for people to ask permission to use the term and if you are providing a service, to include the statement above, about the term being a registered trademark. You may contact her here COS Production Contact

I must admit that I was surprised when I first found out that “Book Trailer” was a registered trademark, but I have to give it to her… that was clever. The term has become so popular that I wouldn’t be surprised, that someday, the definition will be found in the dictionary.  (is not yet listed… I checked ;))

13 thoughts on “Did you know the phrase “Book Trailer” is a Registered Trademark? (Update)

  • Genericide

    Genericide occurs when a trademark has been judicially determined to have lost its distinctiveness as a source identifier, such that the public considers the former trademark to represent a general category of products or services rather than a particular standard of quality and single source of such products or services. Famous examples of formerly registered trademarks that have been invalidated, in the United States, on the ground of genericide include aspirin, cellophane, escalator and thermos (as applied to vacuum flasks). To help avoid a judicial determination that a trademark has lost its distinctiveness, trademark owners should carefully craft strategies to educate the public and police their marks. In addition, they should be aware that although a trademark may be held to be a generic term in one country, valid rights in the mark may still exist in other countries. Aspirin has become a generic term in the United States but is still protected as a trademark in Canada and Germany.

    Like

  • I’m always interested to hear this issue discussed. As of this year I’ve owned the trademark for ten years and it is about to be placed on the permanent register.
    The two things I would point out is that, as long as social sites and video sharing communities recognize the mark and are willing to take action on any infringements, it’s worth giving the trademark a little consideration.
    I’ve never asked that someone’s profile or video be taken down. I’ve never run into anyone I wasn’t able to come to some kind of agreement or understanding with. I’m very agreeable, not because I lack legal fortitude for because I’m a nice person and prefer working with someone instead of against them. I’ve made friends and even hired people using this attitude and approach.
    The second point I’d like to make is this: I never trademarked it to make money off the term. Back when I trademarked it no one could tell you what a “book trailer” was and that’s why I got it. People thought a “book trailer” was a book mobile. Not one single soul said it was a video. Now, today, it seems like it’s obvious what a book trailer is, but I mortgaged my home to pay for the marketing and promotion of book trailers so people would know what it is. I trademarked the term so the good people in New York would take me seriously. Since I’ve been interviewed by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, etc. I’d say it was a good investment. I certainly couldn’t pay for that kind of exposure.

    Like

    • Hi Sheila, Thank you for stopping and commenting on this post. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the situation and as you can see, this fact is not well known. However, I am sure, with time it will be.

      I must admit that since the beginning your treatment has been friendly and cordial.

      I wish you the best,
      Pati

      Like

    • Sheila,

      Perhaps you can help me understands this a little better, then. I have dealt with trademark law extensively in establishing my retail business and based on what I have discovered, I do not understand how your claim can be valid.

      First, Anyone can register anything as a trademark, but the protection offered by trademark law differs based on the class of the trademark. “Joey Calzone’s Pizzeria” would be afforded more protection than “The Pizza Place” because the latter is more generic and could be used to describe a number of similar businesses (If ‘The Pizza Place’ were written in a specific font, all caps, and slices of pizza were used in place of the A’s, then it would be considered a unique and protectable trademark). It may still be ‘registered’ as a trademark, but when tested, it would not hold up. And being placed on the ‘permanent’ register is merely a matter of time, not validity.

      The trademark office does not test trademark registrations. If there is nothing else on file, it will accept the registration, but that only means there is nothing else on file – not that the trademark is defensible.

      As I said in my previous comment, there are certain conditions a trademark must meet in order to be included in a certain class and, therefore, be defensible. As I see it, the term ‘Book Trailer’ only fits into the non-defensible ‘Generic’ class, based on the criteria established by trademark law.

      The amount of money you have put into marketing and the claim that others are willing to take action against infringements, while highly commendable, are red herrings. Has there been a challenge in a court of law that has established ‘Book Trailer’ as a valid trademark? If not, then any claim made to the contrary, without substantial supporting evidence that it fits into a higher category of trademark protection is invalid.

      Since you have done interviews in major media outlets under that claim that ‘book trailer’ is a ‘trademark,’ some in the publishing industry might consider those interviews to be fraudulent and may have a basis for legal action against you on those grounds.

      I am merely sharing my understanding of the legal implications of all of this – don’t get me wrong, here. If I am mistaken or if I am missing something, I would be glad to hear about it, but I have developed a very good understanding of trademark and copyright law and don’t believe I have missed anything in the analysis.

      Like

  • Thanks for this info. I did a little research on my own and found some further information that might be helpful. First, I did a trademark search at the US Patent and Trademark website. The trademark “Book Trailer” is registered to Sheila F. Clover, as an individual, NOT as a company or subsidiary. Therefore, COS Productions would have to have her personal permission to use the mark (easy since she is the owner, but legally significant).

    Second, the mark is what would be classified as “Generic” under trademark law and has no legal protection. If it could be proven that this mark was generally associated with Sheila F. Clover (not COS Productions), then it would be considered “Descriptive” and would be afforded SOME legal protection. This is most likely why Sheila is allowing free use of the trademark – she has no legal footing unless a vast majority of the public associates the term with her, personally (again – not with her company) http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm

    So you were correct when you said it would be like creating the trademark “hot dog.” You can register that trademark with the USPTO, but you would have no legal means of enforcement.

    Like

      • HI Patricia and Improv Writer. This information and thorough detail you have provided is excellent and most useful. It feels logical to me in my laymen’s understanding that you cannot trademark words in the english language. Otherwise there would surely be all sorts of trademarks for commonly used words put together like “Thermal Flask” or “Acrylic Nails”? They might not exist yet as a common things, but they are standard words. But as a logo (with specific fonts and colours) I can see how that can be trademarked. An example is “Privilege”. The word itself isn’t and can’t be trademarked, but the logo is trademarked (they’re an insurance company http://www.privilege.com/car-insurance cmpid=43700003360168566/bpcar/ppc/google/privilege_car_insurance&gclid=CJmB3a7_48UCFSUDtAodHeUAaw&gclsrc=ds)

        If it was something like “Book Trailerz” (deliberately mispelled) I could understand that being trademarked. This is why people go to all sorts of lengths to differentiate their brand and associate specific products them like “Thermos”. After all, even patents have a finite life span.

        I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to put the information together on this post.

        Like

Comments are welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s