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I would like to use the title of a TV sitcom in the title of my book. How do I find out if this is without legal ramifications?

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    Could you post the name of the sitcom, and the intended name of your book? If it's a common phrase, you're probably fine. – F1Krazy Jul 10 '19 at 19:40
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    Well, the words "Big Bang theory" or "Friends" can't be copyrighted. So it really depends. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jul 10 '19 at 19:53
  • Welcome to Writing.SE Gloria. Please check out our tour and help center. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 10 '19 at 20:10
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You likely need to do a trademark search, and see if the title is trademarked.

Go to The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

Select "Basic Word Mark Search", the first option in the list.

For the Search Term, put in your title: For example, "Dead Like Me" (without the quotes).

This is the name of a sci-fi show. You will find it WAS trademarked, the filing date was April 11, 2002, it was registered on March 30, 2004, the Owner (Registrant) was MGM Television. But then the Live/Dead Indicator at the bottom indicates it is DEAD, and the Cancellation Date is October 31, 2014. So you can use it!

Any Trademark that is LIVE you shouldn't use; the words belong to somebody else, and the somebody else can sue you. Typically only unusual combinations of words as titles can be trademarked, but it doesn't hurt to check.

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There are 144 books with the word "Seinfeld" in the title. Most are about the TV series, about the creator, or by him or his family. But a few use the name as part of the phrasing and/or to refer back to the show. Examples (some are nonfiction and reference Seinfeld, but are not about the man or the show):

There are 302 books with the phrase "All in the Family" somehow represented in the title (not always directly). A great number of them are novels (or poetry books) with that exact title. Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.

Here are some more fiction books with sitcom names as part of the title:

I'm not seeing a problem here. But your publisher will advise you about the title anyway, so it's not an issue if you're going for a traditional publisher. If you're self-publishing, check to see if it's already being used and how.

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