Harlan Ellison ®

I was at my local library earlier today and checked out Isaac Asimov’s The Return of The Black Widowers. (It’s a collection of someone’s favorite BW stories and has six stories that had not been previously collected. This book was published last year.) It includes a forward by Harlan Ellison ®. That’s right, Mr. Ellison is now a registered trademark.

I’m assuming this will not prevent someone named Ellison from naming his new baby boy Harlan, nor prevent young Master Ellison from someday becoming a writer with his own name. So what does Mr. Ellison gain by becoming a registered trademark?

Note I am not asking why he did so. I just assume he’s doing it to piss somebody off.

[sarcasm on]Nooooooo!! Not Harlan Ellison!!![sarcasm off]

The U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office database shows that Isaac Asimov is also a word mark.

It’s just a sensible thing to do these days, in much the same way as becoming a PC, a personal corporation, is.

What in the world is a “personal corporation?”

Just like a corpation (IBM, for example), but it’s an individual. Check out a phone book and look under lawyers. You’ll see “PC” after a lot of them. I had friend who worked for lawyers and that’s what she told me it meant.

I seem to recall that Billy Joel had to register his name as a trademark in order to prevent his first ex-wife from screwing him out of any more money…

Could someone explain the steps/requirements needed to attain (a?) personal corporation? Can anyone do it?

Ellison’s personal corporation is “The Kilimanjaro Corporation*” and he copyrights all his work in that name nowadays.

As a trademark, it merely means that if you use Harlan’s name to promote something or as a byline, Harlan has to agree to it.

*Robert Silverberg uses “Agberg, Inc.” – my favorite name of the various author corporations.

Roger Zelazny had The Amber Corporation. Mike Resnick is Kirinyaga, Inc.

I think Silverberg was the pioneer in the field in setting up a PC, but he was always a great businessman, a millionaire from investing his writing income while he was still in his 20s.

PCs are available to anyone, but they are set up mostly for tax reasons. They simply aren’t worth the time and trouble unless you work for yourself and regularly make a six-figure income. Unless you already have an accountant who is pestering you to set one up, don’t.

What would help understanding in about a thousand threads is that writing is a business and has to be treated as such.

To illustrate, with Asimov as an example: There’s a magazine called Isaac Asimov’s Magazine of Science Fiction, and a set of books (not written by Asimov) printed as “Isaac Asimov Presents”. Clearly, sticking Asimov’s name on a piece of science fiction adds clout to it and makes it easier to sell. If Asimov’s name were not trademarked, then any old hack could sell books as “A new novel in the spirit of Isaac Asimov” or “Set in Isaac Asimov’s galaxy”, or the like. As it is, though, you know that anyone using that name got the approval of Asimov or his estate. Which might mean that the good doctor really liked it, or it might just mean that whoever the current owner of the estate is saw enough dollar signs. But at least it means something.

When you see PC after a business name, it stands for “professional corporation.” The only people who can form PCs are those professionals, usually licensed by the state, that state corporate laws specify, typically doctors, lawyers and sometimes accountants. To my knowledge, there is technically no such thing as a personal corporation.

Of course, you, personally, can form a corporation wholly-owned personally by you, in which case you have your own personal corporation, speaking in the personal vernacular of ordinary persons.

That is my personal professional take on it.

If Ellison were here, he’d probably make a really cogent case. (As well as lambasting you for saying “forward” when you mean “foreword”. I can imagine 2000 words on the evils of spell-check software.)

Somehow, this would seem less strange to me if “Harlan Ellison” were a pseudonym, instead of his actual name.

Maybe Harlan Ellison© is just copying V.C. Andrews©


Reminds me of the bumper stickers from the 1964 presidential campaign that touted “Au H[sub]2[/sub]0.”

Now where was all this info years ago? Hmmm? Not even one response. I probably should have worded the title a little better.

Anyway, I saw something in the past couple of years mentioning “Boris Karloff” and it had the [sup]TM[/sup] on it, too.