How to copyright or coin a phrase

Updated March 23, 2017

Copyrighting enables you to ensure that something you created is protected under the law. Many works of art are created on a daily basis in a wide variety of areas such as music, art, theatre, and literature. Individuals or companies are often able to obtain copyrights in many areas, but you are unable to copyright a phrase you have coined via the United States Copyright Office. However, it may be possible to "copyright" a phrase legally via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Using the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) will allow you to find out which phrases are currently registered via the USPTO. But keep in mind that every trademarked phrase in existence may not be included in the database.

Find out if the phase you have coined is present in the records of the TESS. Go to the website to search for your chosen phrase.

If the phrase you coined is not already in the TESS database, contact the USPTO by telephone at 800-786-9199. Ask the USPTO to send you an application in the mail so you can register your phrase. If you are not able to call, you also have the option of applying online at

Pay the required fees. Be prepared to pay £211 or more, as of 2010. Keep in mind that you cannot get this fee back once it is paid, so make sure you are certain about what you are doing.

Ensure that no other party can oppose the phrase that you have coined. Submitting the phrase for opposition will make sure that no one else can register the phrase you have already registered. Protecting your phrase in this manner will help you to guard against any person or business who attempts to use a phrase that is too similar to your phrase. An opposition takes place when one party attempts to stop another business or person from registering a certain phrase they have coined. If a person or company feels that their reputation is being tarnished by the registration of a phrase, they can file an opposition in order to be protected under their legal rights. Though there is no fee involved to file an opposition, you should consult an attorney for advice to assist you if you are ever faced with this situation.


It's a good idea to contact a lawyer who is an expert in trademark law to assist you through the entire process.

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