The early 2000s were a fun time to be a Harry Potter fan. American readers no longer had to wait a year (or more!) for Scholastic to release the US-version of the book after Bloomsbury released the UK-version.
By the time the new millennium rolled around, Harry Potter fans had three books to read, with the fourth book on its way.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published on June 26, 1997 in the United Kingdom; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, published on September 1, 1998 in the United States
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, published on July 2, 1998 in the United Kingdom and on June 2, 1999 in the United States
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, published on July 8, 1999 in the United Kingdom and on September 8, 1999 in the United States
While writing and publishing these early Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling also sold the movie rights to the first four books to Warner Bros. in 1998.
Thus after the Y2K scare blew over, Harry Potter fans had a lot to discuss in 2000…
Harry Potter and the Secret Trademarks
Warner Bros. wasn’t just making movies. On April 26, 2000, they registered the following titles as trademarks:
- Harry Potter and the Chariots of Light
- Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat
- Harry Potter and the Alchemist’s Cell
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
One of these titles is not like the others!
As we now know, the title Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was announced on June 27, 2000, and the book debuted on July 8, 2000 in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
That gave Harry Potter fans two whole months of intense speculation. What did the trademarks mean? Would one of them be the fourth book? Did Warner Bros. plan to change any of the book titles for the films?
SO MANY THEORIES!
Today, those first three trademarked titles are dead, meaning Warner Bros. no longer plans to use them. Harry Potter fans still don’t know if the trademarks were filed to keep fans guessing about the real title of the fourth book… Or if those titles had creative intentions at one point in time.
The 2000 trademarks were exciting, but they pale in comparison to what came out in later years.
Harry Potter and the Mystery of Seabottom Productions
On July 24, 2003, a mysterious company named Seabottom Productions registered the following titles as trademarks:
- Harry Potter and the Hogsmeade Tomb
- Harry Potter and the Hallows of Hogwarts
- Harry Potter and the Battle for Hogwarts
- Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Mudblood Revolt
- Harry Potter and the Quest of the Centaur
- Harry Potter and the Realm of the Lion
- Harry Potter and the Shadow of the Serpent
- Harry Potter and the Serpent’s Revenge
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Once again, one of these titles is not like the others!
But why would a random, unknown company cause a flurry of speculation among Harry Potter fans?
Because the address listed for Seabottom Productions was the same central London address as the law firm whose name appeared on the trademark registration for all the official Harry Potter titles that existed at that time.
J.K. Rowling revealed the title of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on her website on June 24, 2004. Shortly afterward, Seabottom Productions abandoned this entire list of trademarks.
And yet, if you look up the trademark for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the United Kingdom database, rather than the United States database, the registration date is still July 24, 2003… The same date listed on the trademark filed by Seabottom Productions.
But good luck trying to find a conclusive connection. Thus far, my research has failed me.
Harry Potter and the Last Book Title
Around the same time, Warner Bros. was filing a few more trademarks. On June 15, 2004, Warner Bros. submitted the following titles for trademarks:
- Harry Potter and the Serpent Prince
- Harry Potter and the Curse of the Dementor
- Harry Potter and the Tower of Shadows
- Harry Potter and the Death’s Head Plot
Warner Bros. didn’t abandon these until March 1, 2006.
On December 21, 2006, J.K. Rowling announced the title of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Just a few days later, Warner Bros. filed to trademark the title.
The Meaning of Trademarks
Legally, you can’t trademark something without the intention of actually using the trademark. At some point, Warner Bros. and Seabottom Productions actually had plans for all these titles.
Certainly some of the titles seem like alternate book titles. Others could be the names of companion books, video games, or spin-off films.
Unfortunately, all we can do is speculate, as no one from either Warner Bros. or Seabottom Productions has shared any details on these abandoned trademarks.
What do you think about these trademarks? Share your thoughts in the comments!