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Chris A. Baird | January 19, 2021
Companies Will Sue You For Your Book

Having this question in your mind "Worried companies will sue you for your book?" let me help you with that. Learn about the right steps that you should follow to shake the worries away.

Think Twice

Today's question or problem has three answers and the third answer is something you're going to want to stick around for. Because I'm going to tell you exactly what you need to do to not get sued for the book that you're putting onto the market.

So let me get into it. Today's question or problem was, worried companies will sue you for your book? That is something that many people do wonder about because perhaps you're writing a book about something.

Maybe a person or you're writing a book about a product of some sort. Maybe a video game, your strategies for a fortnight is another example. There are all sorts of examples where you're using other people's things.

It could also be fan fiction. So maybe you're thinking of writing some Star Wars fan fiction and putting it on the market. But you're wondering, maybe I'm going to get sued if I do that and so I need to think twice about whether or not I should do it.

That is what we are going to answer in today's article. But before we get into the answers, grab a copy of my absolutely free Self-Publishing Checklist. To make sure that you are not skipping any of the important steps when getting your book onto the market.

Also to make sure you're making sales off of it. So go ahead and check that out. So let's get into it. Minecraft? That is the story we're going to look at today.

The thing is I knew a person who was making an awful lot of money off of a series of books they had done. They had done some Pokemon but it was the Minecraft ones where you would take Minecraft and you would put together a book that would have the animations.

The different illustrations and drawings from the Minecraft series and then it would just have stories. You would use your creativity as an artist and you would create very amazing stories. But you were doing all of this without the permission of the owners of the trademark.

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The registered trademark and just the title itself "Minecraft". So what happens is that there was at least a huge market for these exact books. Kids love the stories, lots of positive feedback, and tons of sales at Christmas time.

And so that person was making quite a bit of money off of it. It was through Minecraft or maybe Pokemon was another one and the other would be like fan fiction. I haven't seen so much on that front where people were selling books on Amazon for that.

Good Lesson To Learn

But then what happened was they ended up having a problem because I think Microsoft who owned it at the time, did a takedown request to Amazon telling them that this book is owned by somebody else. That is you can't just use their title if you want to.

This can be an interesting question because even if you do like let's say helping people how to use Microsoft Excel. Is that allowed where you're using Excel in the title or do you have to say an unofficial guide? And does that protect you?

So there are many questions that we have that can be around this. What happened was they did not sue him but with the takedown request, they made sure that none of his books were being sold on Amazon.

This friend of mine ended up pivoting to writing about elves and other characters. So it would be very similar stories to the Minecraft stories. But this time, it would be something that isn't protected.

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And so what they found was of course they weren't making as much money. Because people who are interested in Minecraft or Pokemon want to read about this exact subject. But when you end up going in this route, you're not going to make as much money.

But nobody can do a takedown request because you're writing the same stories, just with elves for example which is maybe a good lesson to learn too. So the thing is they did make less money but then they won't risk these takedown requests so that you can see the amount of money.

Because obviously, if you're seeing I think it was $40,000 in one December coming through and then the person suddenly went to nothing from those books because obviously, they couldn't make anything. Because they were selling it but they did not get sued.

And all of the people that I'm familiar with, I haven't heard of anybody ever actually getting sued. That doesn't mean they couldn't but I just haven't heard of it. So, are you worried companies will sue you for your book?

There are a couple of things, the first is you can get in trouble for using other people's trademarks in your book. So you need to be very very careful about doing that. Because one is even if you make some money but then suddenly they do a takedown, then you end up losing in the long run.

Takedown Request

Secondly, they could theoretically sue you. The second thing is you can also have issues if you sell books as fan fiction. So if you're taking your Harry Potter World or Star Wars and you suddenly are writing books inside of that universe.

Then putting it out onto the market using various the same symbols in the same pictures which could confuse the audience that this book here is not an authorized book by the owners of that copyright-like Disney.

For example, writing Disney stories but you're not paid and you're making money off of it. You're risking that takedown occurring or maybe getting sued. But the secret of today is that usually, you will just get a takedown request.

But why exactly would you want to take this risk? It's just too high of a risk. They spent a lot of money to build that brand and they don't want anybody and their brother coming out with a book.

That is hitting on those same things that they own the rights. And maybe it can hurt their brand depending upon it's presented and such and somebody else making money where you didn't pay them for licensing to use that brand.

You know, if you were doing t-shirts or making little dolls or whatever it might be. In this case, it would be the book side of things that we need to be very very careful. Or else we risk putting ourselves in the line of fire by these companies.

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So this would be something you would want to be very careful about. If you do choose to go there anyway, you at least need to say unofficial. So it's very clear that you're somebody who's not associated with the company itself.

That you're not trying to claim that you are part of Pokemon or Minecraft, you're working from Microsoft or something. So I would not do that but it's a little bit gray. I was surprised they don't sue at least I haven't ever heard of that scenario but it could happen.

I don't think it's probably worth the risk of building on other people's products. If you can help it even though each has its internal level of risk that they would be willing to take. So, are you worried companies will sue you for your book? Have you written a book where you use somebody else's trademark material?

If you have, write "yes" below in the comments, and if you haven't, write "no" below in the comments. That will help me know exactly where you're coming from on this issue. And check out my other blogs and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.

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