What’s in a blog name? Eh, not so much, it seems, at least when it comes to longevity. My old friend Mark Herrmann of Drug and Device Law — who erroneously predicted incredible wealth for me about ten years ago but at least does know a thing or two about life-extension technologies — writes in to report on a new post of mutual interest:
We (1) comment on new legal blogs, (2) invent a new word (“blogolater”), and (3) ask about copyrighting our new word.
Okay, well first things first. Topic number one: How few legal blogs survive infancy:
[I]nstead of hard information that you can count on, we’ll give you a tiny little, unscientific survey.
We went over to “Real Lawyers Have Blogs,” which is manned by Kevin O’Keefe, who both sells a legal blogging platform and (perhaps not surprisingly) thinks that legal blogs are God’s gift to lawyers. We went to Kevin’s blogroll on August 18, and we looked at the last six blogs on the first page of listings. Those links were titled: Arizona Injury and Insurance Lawyer, Arizona Family Law Lawyer, Arizona Eminent Domain Lawyer, Arizona DUI Lawyer, Antitrust Lawyers, and Angiosarcoma Lawyer. (Now you see why we weren’t going all the way to “Z.”)
We checked to see whether those six, randomly selected, blogs were still active.
Half of them were.
Ouch. I guess “real lawyers have blogs” isn’t the same as “real lawyers can blog” — a point I’ve made myself. Next point? Oh, it’s related to the first:
Legal blogs don’t last.
They require a ton of work; they gather readership only slowly over time; and they’re not the gold mine of new business that blogolaters say they are.
Blogolaters — that is, arguably irrational evangelists of legal blogging. (Right up in front of tweetolators, I reckon. Shouldn’t be a problem.) Nice, though I would use the “-or” spelling rather than the “-er.” Because I’m a Victorian, I guess. And point three?
(Can you claim a copyright interest in a word? If so, we wantblogolater. We just invented it, and we kind of like it. Can it be ours?)
Ah, yes, well, that’s where I come in.
Yes, for you can claim anything — as a lawyer, you know that! People do it all the time, but I wouldn’t recommend any kind of claim on this one; certainly not copyright. Copyright is almost never found in a single word; though a new coinage may be creative, it is not a “work”; as one recent decision explained:
Copyright inheres ‘in original works of authorship. To be subject to copyright protection, a work or element thereof must possess “at least some minimal degree of creativity.” (quoting Feist Publ., Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 345 (1991)). Generally, “words and short phrases such as names, titles and slogans” are not subject to copyright protection, 37 C.F.R. § 202.1, nor are symbols or “mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring” subject to protection.
Sadhu Singh Hamdad Trust v. Ajit Newspaper Advertising, Marketing and Communications, Inc. 503 F.Supp.2d 577, 588 (E.D.N.Y.,2007) (some citations omitted, etc.).
Now, in this case your best shot would, in theory, be a trademark, Mark, not a copyright claim. But that’s one shot you don’t want to administer; I’m generally sour on slogans, much less single-word ones, as insta-trademarks. That’s unless and until you build up secondary meaning (real secondary meaning, please, not this “trinkets” nonsense!) in the new word. And the best way I can think of do that would be, I don’t know, to use the word BLOGOLATOR as the title of, um, a blog. And you know how that can go.