Wood Dale, IL asked in Copyright for Illinois

Q: Hello, I have a question about copyright, please.

I have been writing a book with the working title "take back beauty" (all lower case letters in the title, intentionally). A search for the phrase produced a copyright from a cosmetic company, Anisa International. Reading the copyright info, my use of the term is not in the same classes as hers. I am not referring to the "beauty" industry or human female beauty, as she appears to be in her use of the term. In a YouTube video "Welcome to Take Back Beauty" she states that the phrase means that "women her age" need to be "catered to and educated" about how to use beauty products. She's referring to older women "taking back" the knowledge of how to use "beauty" products. I am not using the term in the same way. May I continue using the term? Thank you.

edit: As per the answer provided below, yes, I meant to write "trademark." As a lay person, I erroneously interchanged the two terms. Thank you for catching that nuance and answering my question!

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1 Lawyer Answer

A: Hello, you are likely able to keep using this term. I believe what you are referring to are "trademarks" not "copyrights." A trademark is a "source indicator" for goods or services. These usually come in the form of a business name, logo, or slogan. Copyrights, on the other hand, protect original works of authorship.

So, based on what you've told me, it's likely that your book (the contents of the book itself, not just the title) would be a copyright, whereas the title of your book could be a trademark. Similarly, Anisa International's "Take Back Beauty" would be a trademark. Trademark infringement occurs when one party holds a valid, registered trademark and another party uses that mark or a similar mark without permission. When determining if a mark is infringing, we look at two main factors: the similarity of the mark and the similarity of the goods or services the mark is being used with.

If the mark is similar enough to cause a "likelihood of confusion" it will likely be infringing unless the goods or services are sufficiently different. A good example of this is Dove soap and Dove chocolate. They are owned by separate parties, the marks are identical (in word form), but they refer to two completely different goods.

Here, there's a good argument to say your book title would not be infringing on Anisa International's mark because it represents an entirely different good or service. There are always counter arguments, so be prepared for that. However, I think in this scenario, you are probably ok.

DISCLAIMER: This answer does not form an attorney/client relationship and should not be considered as legal advice. Similarly no confidentiality exists between the asker and John B. Riordan or over the question or answer. If the asker would like a full consultation with confidentiality, he or she should contact John B. Riordan or another attorney to schedule such.

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