Years ago I invented a name for a kingdom/country in my YA fantasy novel, which I am on the verge of self-publishing. At random, I discovered a self-published author had the same invented name for her kingdom; only the spelling differed by one letter.

I really don’t want to change my kingdom’s name, but I also don’t want to face anything legal. Is this considered copyright infringement, or is it okay to move forward with publishing my book as is?

Thank you in advance for any help/advice anyone has to offer.

2 Answers 2


Copyright does not apply to single words or even phrases (including titles). The only possible issue here is if the other author trademarked her country name which is unlikely. So don't worry about it.

  • 1
    Thank you so much D.A. Hosek! You have alleviated a ton of stress :)
    – Holly
    Nov 22, 2020 at 14:43

As the answer by @D. A. Hosek said, single words and short phrases are not protected by copyright. However, if a number of names were all duplicated, particularly if there were also other similarities, ther might be an argument that the newer work was a derivative work and thus an infringement of copyright. This is a fact-based determination, but a single duplicated name is very unlikely to cause a work to be considered derivative.

  • 2
    Speciffically, you can have a character named Clark Kent or Harry Potter, but the similarity to their more famous copyright namesakes is about all they should have in common... it is okay to make jokes about the coincidences. This happens all the time IRL (I've know many Mike Meyers... no relation to each other or the guy who does Shrek... who I've never met. And sometimes people deliberately name characters for the joke. In the show Happy Days, one character, Ralph Malph, had parents named Mickey and Minnie Malph... they were all jokesters in series).
    – hszmv
    Nov 23, 2020 at 16:49
  • 1
    Quite true. But if a work had a character named Clark Kent with a girlfriend named Lois Lane, and a Boss named Perry White, working and living in Gotham city, that might approach copyright infringement, unless it is a parody, or some other form of fair use. Nov 23, 2020 at 16:56
  • Thank you, hszmv! That makes sense what you’re saying. I appreciate your comment and helping me out :)
    – Holly
    Nov 26, 2020 at 2:02
  • Thank you, David! Your comments were very helpful and clarified a lot of things for me. I feel more confident with moving forward based on what you, hszmv, and D.A. Hosek are saying. I appreciate all the comments, clarification, and helpful examples you all gave. So nice to have a community where I can ask questions and get solid answers. Thank you all again!
    – Holly
    Nov 26, 2020 at 2:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.