I saw a post by the wonderful KM Weiland that said "You know you're a writer when...you google your book's title to see if anyone else came up with it first". I have never googled a book title because I know there are some titles that have been used before. When looking at books online I tend to pay more attention to the book covers to make sure that mine don't look the same when I am ready to publish.
The thought of checking if anyone else came up with an idea first reminded me of other things as well. I have recently been in the process of learning about copyrights and trademarks for different books and slogans. Most of the authors I know have some form of copyright on their books or at least book one in a series in order to protect characters or created worlds. Because my books are realistic fiction and set in places like Chicago I have a minimum of copyright but nothing specific on character names.
Because I am planning a line of merchandise I have been looking into trademarks and have sadly discovered that, while it is a good idea to be protected so no one else can take your idea, it is an extremely expensive endeavor. Now I am doing my best to figure out how to raise the money to get the trademark so I can create the shirts, mugs, bookmarks, etc. There has been the suggestion of borrowing the money to get the trademark but I have also considered having a limited amount of the merchandise made and ordered, then selling it at a book show to see how it does and if it sells well then I can use the money to help pay for the trademark fee.
There are so many people out there creating ideas. Yes, there are times they will be similar but there is another quote that says "Give a hundred authors the same idea...You will end up with a hundred different stories". We are creative people but we all have our own ways of doing things, our own perspectives and our own biases. We are not in competition with one another. We are all promoters of our original ideas and are just doing our best to make our creations as visible as possible in this massive writing world.