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Copywriting or Registering a Pen Name?

I have been writing under a pen name, though none is public (internet) or published. Do I need to register or copywrite my pen name? It's pretty good and I don't want for anyone to use it–no, it's not something so common, but it's good. Plus, I am no longer friends with someone who knows the name and I don't want for him to use it.

Serious answers only!!!
Thanks in advance!
FYI: I want a pen name because the info is sensitive and I don't want certain people to associate details to me. Thanks anyways.

I'm not a lawyer but I don't think you can copyright a name; there's an explanation here:

http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p18_copyright_names

Although that's the UK, I think it holds true for most places including the US. For example, there are two authors named James Patterson– one is a best selling novelist and the other is not, but he's still James Patterson.

However, I believe that if someone else used a name with an intent to deceive, a suit could be brought on the grounds that they were misleading people. For example, there was an artist named Keith Urban who was asked to modify his website because country singer Keith Urban (or at his lawyers) thought the way his site was set up, he was leading people to think he was the singer and were buying his artwork in that belief.

Here's a link to a US answer; it's about a band but I think the same thing would hold. In some cases a name can be trademarked, but you have to prove there is some value in the name to start with.

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html

Hope this helps.

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  • princessmikey

    I'm not a lawyer but I don't think you can copyright a name; there's an explanation here:
    http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p18_copyright_names

    Although that's the UK, I think it holds true for most places including the US. For example, there are two authors named James Patterson– one is a best selling novelist and the other is not, but he's still James Patterson.

    However, I believe that if someone else used a name with an intent to deceive, a suit could be brought on the grounds that they were misleading people. For example, there was an artist named Keith Urban who was asked to modify his website because country singer Keith Urban (or at his lawyers) thought the way his site was set up, he was leading people to think he was the singer and were buying his artwork in that belief.

    Here's a link to a US answer; it's about a band but I think the same thing would hold. In some cases a name can be trademarked, but you have to prove there is some value in the name to start with.

    http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html

    Hope this helps.
    References :

  • Lamia

    Names can never be copyrighted. That's just not the way copyright law works. Think if someone's real name happened to be the same as your pen name — would it be fair to sue them over that?

    If you were published under this name, other authors (and their publishers) wouldn't want to use it because someone might buy your book instead of theirs by mistake. But if you've never published under your pen name then there isn't anything you can do to protect it.

    Honestly though, having a cool pen name is nice but it's not that important. If you want to be a writer then write, don't worry about your name.
    References :
    U.S. Copyright Office – Pseudonyms: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl101.html

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