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Is "horsekeeping" a trademarked term?

From: Flora

Dear Jessica, I am hoping that your background as a published author will help you answer this for me. I have been interested for some time in putting together a book of anecdotes about the horses on my farm and all of the adventures we have had in keeping horses here over many years (a little over 100, actually). The farm belonged to my mother's family, and there have always been horses here, first work horses and riding horses, and then (after a lot of land was sold off) just the riding horses. Today my family still lives on the farm and we have six horses. Two of them are very old, almost thirty, and they are real characters that I think other people would like to read stories about. I have written ten stories so far, and my family enjoys them very much. (Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to read them!). I have a good book about finding a publisher, and am about to start the process of getting published (hopefully anyway), but what I want your advice about is my title. I wanted to call my book "Adventures in Horsekeeping", but when I mentioned this to a friend who is also a published author (not horse books, romances) she said that I needed to find out if "Horsekeeping" was a trademarked term, because if it was I couldn't use it. I have no idea how to find this out, and I really like my choice of title for this book. Can you help me please? Flora

Hi Flora! Congratulations on writing the stories, and on having such interesting horses to write about. I know what you mean about adventures and history with older horses - one of mine will be 27 next May, and she's definitely a "character". I've owned her since she was three years old, and I could probably write an entire book of stories just about her.

It sounds as though your plans are well in hand. Before I discuss the term "horsekeeping", let me say this: It's entirely possible that your publishing house, when you find one, will want to put a different title on your book, and just in case this happens - which it does quite often -it's a good idea for you to be open-minded about changing ANY title to one that the editors feel will help make the book a success.

Now, on to your specific question! No, the term "horsekeeping" isn't trademarked, and since it's a common and popular term, it can't actually BE trademarked as such. I couldn't trademark "HORSE-SENSE", for instance - but I could, if I wanted, trademark "Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE". You could, if you wanted, trademark "Flora's Horsekeeping", but I wouldn't bother to do this if I were you. You'd be going to a good deal of trouble and expense for very little real benefit.

"Horsekeeping" is a common word in horse-book titles. Here's a brief rundown of what I can tell you about the term - it's likely to be an incomplete list, but here goes!

I own, I think, ten or twelve different books with "horsekeeping" in the title - the earliest one was published before 1850! Since then, there have been many book titles incorporating the word. "Get a Horse: The Basics of Back Yard Horsekeeping" (author: Steven Price) was published early in the 1970s, as was Practical Horseman magazine's "Practical Horsekeeping" book. There was a series of very useful books by Ray Saunders: "Horsekeeping: Management, Ailments and Injuries", "Horsekeeping: Ownership, Stabling, and Feeding", "Horsekeeping: Small Scale Breeding", and "Horsekeeping: Riding and Training" are the titles I remember. There's a nice book for children called "Safe Horse, Safe Rider: A Young Rider's Guide to Responsible Horsekeeping" - this one is by Jessie Haas, and was published in 1994. Probably the most regular user of the term, these days, is prolific (and very good!) author Cherry Hill: "Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage" is hers, and some of her other titles include "Stablekeeping: A Visual Guide to Safe and Healthy Horsekeeping", and "Horse Handling and Grooming: A Step-By-Step Photographic Guide to Mastering Over 100 Horsekeeping Skills."

I don't think that "horsekeeping" is necessarily an overworked term - it's been popular for many, many years - but I'm not sure that you should get overly attached to it, or, for that matter, to any other common term such as "horsemanship". Some publishers may want to avoid using those terms for fear that your book could be confused with other, similar titles; other publishers might simply want to see something more original and eye-catching. There are a lot of other possible titles for a book such as yours. "100 Years of Horses on My Farm", for instance, is a title that would make me pick up and look at a book - and I'm sure other people would react the same way.

That's not to say that there's anything wrong with the term "horsekeeping" - it's a nice word and a useful one - but it's strongly identified with other books by other authors, and it would be nice if you could find a unique (or at least unusual) term of your own, that you could use for ALL of your books. After all, if you've had horses on the place for that long, you're not going to stop at ONE volume of anecdotes.... ;-)

So there you have it: My opinion, for what it's worth. ;-)


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