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Is "4 Hour Work Week" Copyrighted Entirely?

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GetShitDone

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I am about to launch my product to the market and I want to name it "4 Hour (My Niche's Name) Work Week" as its a similar concept of working smart, but for my niche.

Surely "4 Hour Work Week" is trademarked/copyrighted. But am I able to add my niche name in the middle of it and not get sued?
 

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Thoelt53

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That’s an excellent question for a lawyer.

There’s nothing stopping Tim Ferris from suing you in that case. He may not win, but he surely has deeper pockets than you.

Also, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advise.
 

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I mean his books are “4 Hour Body,” “4 Hour Chef” so I’m gonna guess he has that trademarked.
 
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GetShitDone

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I mean his books are “4 Hour Body,” “4 Hour Chef” so I’m gonna guess he has that trademarked.
That’s an excellent question for a lawyer.

There’s nothing stopping Tim Ferris from suing you in that case. He may not win, but he surely has deeper pockets than you.

Also, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advise.
Perhaps I could get away with making it my slogan? "The 4 Hour Work Week of (Niche)"
 

ChrisV

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Perhaps I could get away with making it my slogan? "The 4 Hour Work Week of (Niche)"
Yea, I would think that would be fine.

Okay, think of it this way... "4 Hour .....” is his brand. Just like Kelloggs is a brand. Imagine if you came out with a product called Kelloggs Wheatie Fluffs.. even though you weren’t really Kelloggs.

But if you came out with a product with a tagline: “The Kelloggs of fruit cups” or “the Netflix of Skateboards” you should be fine.

I’d definite check with a lawyer though.
 

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I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
I took a shitty Media Ethics & Law class in college which I half remember. This is my personal subjective observations based on common sense and a bad memory. I advise you to seek a lawyer.


Copyright doesn't apply here as it has to do with the content within that specific work. Spend some time looking into TRADEMARKS which is what will be used against you.

Trademarks have to do with the branding. Ferris put out 4-Hour Chef and 4-Hour Body. His brand IS the "4 Hour" brand.

You also can't put out a Rich Dad's Guide to Yoga because it's intentionally representing yourself as another brand. You can't even release a financial self-help book with those shades of gold and purple on the cover, because that too is a trademark issue.

Tim Ferris most certainly can (and will) make the case that you are intentionally using his brand's image to sell products by misleading customers.

The issue might not even be that you're making money. The issue is that you're hurting his brand. If a customer picks up your product, and the customer is negatively affected by it, they will think that it's Tim Ferris' brand. You actively hurt his brand message. I'm relatively sure any judge will agree.

The waters are a bit wooshy-washy.

Trademarks really only apply within the same industry. If you're releasing a yoga mat called the "4-hour yoga mat" you're basically in the clear. There's no brand confusion. If there's a defect int he yoga mat, Tim Ferris doesn't get hurt.

If it's a book, ebook, dvd, course, productivity tool, or self improvement product... you're in trouble.

I think significantly changing the title to "5 hour housecleaning week" is far more safe. But at that point... without the brand confusion... it looks extra hacky (which is a sign it was a bad idea to start with).

Just come up with something original.

edit: Keep direct product comparisons out of your titles. It's a REALLY REALLY bad practice and opens you up to liability.

Instead, use product comparisons in your marketing.
"My product is basically 4-hour workweek... but specifically for housecleaning".

There's no way to claim intentional brand confusion there.
 

Thoelt53

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Perhaps I could get away with making it my slogan? "The 4 Hour Work Week of (Niche)"
Tim Ferris could still sue you and drag you through the mud before you’ve made your first $1,000. There is nothing stopping him from suing you. He has bigger pockets, and even if he loses the suit (which he probably wouldn’t), he will still come out on top as you’re buried six feet under in legal fees and lawyers.

Ask a lawyer.

The Beatles sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement of their record company, Apple Records, and won, initially. And they were in completely unrelated markets at the time.
 
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GetShitDone

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Yea, I would think that would be fine.

Okay, think of it this way... "4 Hour .....” is his brand. Just like Kelloggs is a brand. Imagine if you came out with a product called Kelloggs Wheatie Fluffs.. even though you weren’t really Kelloggs.

But if you came out with a product with a tagline: “The Kelloggs of fruit cups” or “the Netflix of Skateboards” you should be fine.

I’d definite check with a lawyer though.
Yeah that makes sense.


I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
I took a shitty Media Ethics & Law class in college which I half remember. This is my personal subjective observations based on common sense and a bad memory. I advise you to seek a lawyer.


Copyright doesn't apply here as it has to do with the content within that specific work. Spend some time looking into TRADEMARKS which is what will be used against you.

Trademarks have to do with the branding. Ferris put out 4-Hour Chef and 4-Hour Body. His brand IS the "4 Hour" brand.

You also can't put out a Rich Dad's Guide to Yoga because it's intentionally representing yourself as another brand. You can't even release a financial self-help book with those shades of gold and purple on the cover, because that too is a trademark issue.

Tim Ferris most certainly can (and will) make the case that you are intentionally using his brand's image to sell products by misleading customers.

The issue might not even be that you're making money. The issue is that you're hurting his brand. If a customer picks up your product, and the customer is negatively affected by it, they will think that it's Tim Ferris' brand. You actively hurt his brand message. I'm relatively sure any judge will agree.

The waters are a bit wooshy-washy.

Trademarks really only apply within the same industry. If you're releasing a yoga mat called the "4-hour yoga mat" you're basically in the clear. There's no brand confusion. If there's a defect int he yoga mat, Tim Ferris doesn't get hurt.

If it's a book, ebook, dvd, course, productivity tool, or self improvement product... you're in trouble.

I think significantly changing the title to "5 hour housecleaning week" is far more safe. But at that point... without the brand confusion... it looks extra hacky (which is a sign it was a bad idea to start with).

Just come up with something original.

edit: Keep direct product comparisons out of your titles. It's a REALLY REALLY bad practice and opens you up to liability.

Instead, use product comparisons in your marketing.
"My product is basically 4-hour workweek... but specifically for housecleaning".

There's no way to claim intentional brand confusion there.
Thanks a lot for the write up man! Looks like I can get away with a slogan then?


Tim Ferris could still sue you and drag you through the mud before you’ve made your first $1,000. There is nothing stopping him from suing you. He has bigger pockets, and even if he loses the suit (which he probably wouldn’t), he will still come out on top as you’re buried six feet under in legal fees and lawyers.

Ask a lawyer.

The Beatles sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement of their record company, Apple Records, and won, initially. And they were in completely unrelated markets at the time.
Okay I understand, but slogan wise there's tons of companies that say they're the (Insert Brand) of (Insert Niche). Netflix of Foreign Movies, Wordpress of Apps, etc. Wouldn't they get sued by corporations bigger then Ferris?
 

DennisDuty

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Wouldn't they get sued by corporations bigger then Ferris?
If I wanted to I can sue you right now for living in Canada. Don't live in Canada? I don't care, you can prove it in court. Anybody can sue anybody for anything.

It feels like you're looking for a HARD ANSWER when there really isn't one. At the end of the day it's all about your personal risk tolerance.

One time I actually intentionally COMMITTED A CRIME and didn't get sued. Other people get sued for nothing.

That uneasy feeling of "what if _____" might never go away. No amount of seeking permission from us will make you feel better.

Decide on your personal level of risk tolerance and then make the decision.
 

MJ DeMarco

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My guess is you will get sued for trademark infringement, just like you can't use "Rich Dad" in your book about finance and entrepreneurship.

"4-hour" is a brand name and if you use it you are most likely opening yourself up to serious legal issues.

While book titles can't be trademarked, you can trademark titles if they represent a series. Tim's work is a series, 4-hour body, 4HWW, etc.

You can't co-op someone's brand-name.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but this is not something I'd gamble on under any circumstance.

And besides, why not just name it "3-hour", or "5 hour"? '

Oh yea, that's right, you want to take advantage of a popular brand name... that's why it's wrong.
 

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DennisDuty

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And besides, why not just name it "3-hour", or "5 hour"? '

Oh yea, that's right, you want to take advantage of a popular brand name... that's why it's wrong.
Bingo.
If you NEED to say '4 hour' to be successful, then on some level you were counting on tricking customers via brand confusion.
 
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GetShitDone

GetShitDone

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My guess is you will get sued for trademark infringement, just like you can't use "Rich Dad" in your book about finance and entrepreneurship.

"4-hour" is a brand name and if you use it you are most likely opening yourself up to serious legal issues.

While book titles can't be trademarked, you can trademark titles if they represent a series. Tim's work is a series, 4-hour body, 4HWW, etc.

You can't co-op someone's brand-name.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but this is not something I'd gamble on under any circumstance.

And besides, why not just name it "3-hour", or "5 hour"? '

Oh yea, that's right, you want to take advantage of a popular brand name... that's why it's wrong.
Thanks for that.

I've been considering something like 3-hour/5-hour as my product resembles the less time, more money aspect that the 4 Hour brand promotes.

So I'll have a think on if I should do that or create something synonymous with 3 hour/5 hour.
 

Kruiser

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Here's a link to Tim Ferris's original trademark registration for "The 4 Hour." TESS -- Error

No special research or legal training is required to opine that using "the 4 hour" is a really bad idea. Besides the significant ethical dimensions MJ mentioned, it is a high risk idea. The BEST way using "the 4 hour" could work out for you is if Tim Ferris noticed you quickly and shut you down immediately. The worst way using "the 4 hour" could work out for you is that you'd actually get traction and growth using his brand, then he'd shut you down, take your profits, etc. That is, if using "the 4 hour" actually "worked" for you, that would almost certainly get you shut down by Tim Ferris and the money, time, and effort you put into using that brand will be wasted.

Nothing good can come of using someone else's brand name (except for maybe some very
small amount of profits if you aren't too successful).
 

BrooklynHustle

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DMV
I am about to launch my product to the market and I want to name it "4 Hour (My Niche's Name) Work Week" as its a similar concept of working smart, but for my niche.

Surely "4 Hour Work Week" is trademarked/copyrighted. But am I able to add my niche name in the middle of it and not get sued?
Personally, I wouldn't mess with that.

WHY?
 

minivanman

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So just up it an hour.... The 5 Hour Work Week or Just 5 Hours A Week. We are the only ones to ever know.... ;)
 

ChrisV

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And besides, why not just name it "3-hour", or "5 hour"? '
Bingo.
If you NEED to say '4 hour' to be successful, then on some level you were counting on tricking customers via brand confusion.
Thanks for that.

I've been considering something like 3-hour/5-hour as my product resembles the less time, more money aspect that the 4 Hour brand promotes.

So I'll have a think on if I should do that or create something synonymous with 3 hour/5 hour.
So just up it an hour.... The 5 Hour Work Week or Just 5 Hours A Week. We are the only ones to ever know.... ;)
0:32

View: https://youtu.be/JB2di69FmhE?t=32
 

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