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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.

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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.

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    Thank you so much D.A. Hosek! You have alleviated a ton of stress :) – Holly Nov 22 '20 at 14:43
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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.

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    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 '20 at 16:49
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    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. – David Siegel Nov 23 '20 at 16:56
  • Thank you, hszmv! That makes sense what you’re saying. I appreciate your comment and helping me out :) – Holly Nov 26 '20 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 '20 at 2:10

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