File a Fictitious Business Name Statement. Once you have decided on your imprint name, file a Fictitious Business Name Statement (FBN Statement) with the county where your business will be located. Some people will call this a DBA (doing business as) filing. It is a simple and inexpensive task.
An Internet search of Fictitious Business Name and the name of your county will pull up services that handle the recording and publication for a small fee. The cost is typically less than $100. Doing it yourself won’t save much money, so I recommend you hire a company to handle your FBN filing.
Why file an FBN Statement? If you get a check made out to your imprint name, you will have trouble cashing it unless you show your bank a recorded FBN Statement. With an FBN Statement, you may also set up bank accounts and obtain credit cards in the imprint name, which simplifies keeping track of your self-publishing expenses and income.
Consider Trademark Protection. If you are selling your books under an imprint name, that name is your trademark. It identifies the source of the book, the same way the Penguin name and logo would indicate a book was published by Penguin. Your trademark could include an illustration.
If your trademark is not registered with the U.S. Trademark office, then you may mark it with a TM. Only registered marks may use the ® symbol.
Should you register your imprint name as a trademark with the USPTO? It is not required. You will own a common-law trademark as soon as you offer your books for sale under your imprint name.
Federal registration has several advantages. It puts the world on notice of your claim of ownership of the mark. It creates a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and it gives you the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration. The USPTO has various publications to help you.
Trademark protection comes at a cost. Currently, the application fees for U.S. registration are $325 and up. And the USPTO may decide your imprint name does not qualify for trademark registration, and they do not return your fee. You may need a trademark lawyer to assist you, another expense.
Registering your imprint name as a trademark could be overkill.
Let’s pause for a moment and discuss proportionality. Are you paying for a ten-foot cement wall when a picket fence will do?
Think of using the law in two ways. One is defensively. You conduct a trademark search as a defensive measure to avoid infringing on the trademark rights of others. The law is also used offensively (and here I’m using the term to mean to advance strategically, as in football).
If you register your trademark, you will have more options for stopping infringement and collecting damages, in other words, going on the offensive. But consider how much time and money you are willing to spend to stop someone from using a name that infringes on your imprint name. How much are you likely to lose as a result of the infringement compared to the cost of trying to stop it, not only in terms of money, but in time, irritation, and distraction? This question arises with respect to your copyrighted works as well. Most people underestimate the frustrating and consuming nature of litigation.
In other words, you could put off registering your imprint name as a trademark and rely instead on your common law trademark until you see how well your book or books sell.SHARE THIS