Anyone who was on social media yesterday knows what the title and subject of this commentary eludes to, cockygate. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I am going to start off with a brief summary of the past month of turmoil regarding this issue.
In early May 2018, an author published a crude and obviously self-written Cease and Desist letter from an author regarding her trademark of the word cocky in use of titles in a romance series. The C&D threatened legal action if the petitioned author did not respond by changing their title within a short time period. Not an easy task by any means, but I digress. The C&D also mentioned that if the author didn’t comply that they would legally seek all royalties and profits from the work as restitution for non-compliance.
That’s when bookworld blew up because the news was spreading like wildfire of what she had done. More and more authors received C&D letters, and notifications from Amazon of the supposed infringement of their use of the word cocky. FH had even reviewed a book by an author who had similar character names with a crudely written C&D letter. For those who don’t know, you cannot legally own a name that isn’t unique yet this woman feels she does own it. Author after author spoke out about similar experiences with FH, and the bookworld news reel took off. Readers, authors, bloggers, and all other literary professionals took to their social media pages voicing displeasure about her actions in hopes that she would reconsider when they reached out to her.
She did not and called the masses of people who were against her trademark bullies. A word that I think is being misconstrued on a daily basis by more than just FH. Let’s just read the dictionaries description of a bully.
1. a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
1. use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
FH was the person who initiated this act of aggression on others. Those who spoke out against, much like I am right now, are simply using their legally given right of the First Amendment of the Constitution of exercising my right of free speech. Bullies, we are not. We, as the collective of the people who make up bookworld, are angry at the precedent that she is setting.
Trademarking pen names and series names have long since been around. It’s a move to protect your work and your name from copycats. Had Faleena Hopkins, known as FH from here on, had stuck to just that, this would be a completely different story. But, she didn’t. She chose to move forward and legally try to own a trademark on a word that has long since been around before her series of books.
So, let’s fast forward to the current news on this topic. Last week FH through her attorney files for an TRO (temporary restraining order) and injunction against former attorney and sci-fi author Kevin Kneupper, who had filed a petition to cancel her trademark shortly after the news broke, Tara Crescent, an author who refused to change her cocky title, and Jennifer Watson, a publicist who was hired to promote a legal fee fundraising anthology entitled CockTales. An obvious move to try to block the cancellation proceedings of her trademark and to cease the sale of the anthology that is mocking her and raising funds to combat her claims in court. A move that she lost. The judge denied her injunction to block the anthology and Crescent’s other cock books being available for sale and the TRO request. judge also set a discovery hearing for Sept 2018.
This was a small victory in a very long fight ahead of us. Many people have asked via social media why this means so much to authors and readers alike. Both indie and traditionally published. The precedent this trademark makes could re-shape the literary world as we know it. The downhill effect is already beginning as other authors have filed to trademark generic words. And this is just the beginning. Until the case against FH is resolved, hopefully in our favor, authors will live in fear a trademark limiting their creative usage. Imagine having to wake up every morning to scour the USPTO for new filings that could come back on you. Imagine all the hours we are losing on this by not writing or promoting our books that are being buried by this case.
Cockygate doesn’t just harm authors, but readers as well, and if we don’t stand together in our desperate hour of need to squash this precedent down, bookworld may very well cease to exist for those who can’t pay to trademark. So while this battles out, please stick us as authors, and help support the cocky authors.
If you’d like to purchase the Cocktales Anthology, you may do so here:
Google Play: https://bit.ly/2ImisBR
Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/CockTalesGR
Avelyn Paige is an Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY bestselling Motorcycle Romance author.