Recently, an indie author registered a couple trademarks positioning her as the sole owner and monopoly of an irreverent yet everyday term in the word “cocky.” Now that she owns the trademark on this word, this author sent out cease and desist letters to other publishers using her trademarked term cocky. What exactly happened? What can we expect? And, will the success of her trademark registration indicate the direction of the entire publishing industry? Find out more in today’s post about #Cockygate: The Cocky Trademark Outrage. Read on!
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Why’s the Deal with #ByeFaleena?
In case you missed it, this past weekend the entire indie author community is all lit up over one author’s recent actions and positioning.
Her name is Faleena Hopkins, author of the successful Cocker Brothers Series, a collection of humorous, steamy romance novels.
A quick glance over Faleena’s deep catalog will uncover solid branding and two registered trademarks in the Cocker Brothers and Cocky series names.
The controversy revolves around the registration of the latter trademark of cocky.
The Uproar over #Cockygate
Fairly innocuous at first, it would seem this author is positioning herself as the only relevant author in “Cocker Brothers” and “Cocky” branded books.
However, Faleena personally contacted every author with her trademarked word in their title and requested a full cease and desist.
I tracked down a screenshot of a supposed message to one of the authors.
Faleena shared how she owns the trademark, and how she was “writing out of professional respect.”
Her expectations are all authors can keep their hard-earned rankings and reviews by simply altering the title of all iterations in ebook, print and audio.
The Threat of Legal Consequences over the Cocky Trademark
The alleged message further stated:
My attorney at Morris Yorn Entertainment Law has advised me that if I sue you, I will win all the monies you have earned on this title plus lawyer fees will be paid by you as well.
Wow! Apparently, her attorney is not only well-versed in law, but he is also a psychic fortune teller (sarcasm intended).
She further reassures all authors have to do is to adjust, rename and republish their book. And, they can do so without losing reviews.
Though she acknowledges hard work put into the respective books, Faleena clearly sweeps the real problem under the rug.
The Cost of Changing over the Cocky Trademark
It costs publishers time, energy and money to create new covers, format interior content, adjust marketing plans, and educate the current reading audience on the change.
In one statement on her Twitter account, Faleena stated her trademark was in fact to protect her readership and avoid audience confusion.
And, she even tweeted,
-Faleena Hopkins via Twitter
Granted, the Cocker Brothers series is highly successful. Quite a few of the titles have been among the Kindle All Stars program.
Are her readers so uneducated they can’t tell the difference between a book published under her name and some other random author?
I doubt it.
And, are her readers unaware of Amazon’s liberal return policy?
This is possible.
She could’ve saved money and heartache if she sent out an email, posted a video, or inserted a blurb in her books about this discrepancy.
The Cocky Trademark
What do we know about the trademarks filed?
Faleena Hopkins published her first Cocky book on June 16, 2016, and has a registered trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark office for:
1 A Stylized Form Word Mark
For the record, I am not qualified to decipher the legalese, but I can tell you exactly what the word mark entails according to what it says on the USPTO.gov site.
The registration date for this trademark is Tuesday, May 1, 2018. So, this date further validates recent communication by Faleena with other authors using her trademarked word.
The work mark covers a series of downloadable e-books and books in the field of romance.
And, a Mark Drawing Code of (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM. To see the trademark registration, click here.
The reference to the “stylized form” has some speculating Faleena filed a trademark using a specific font with no prior consent from the creator.
I’m uncertain if this bears any relevance in the trademark issue. But, an alleged original creator of her stylized font made it abundantly clear on Twitter, he did NOT give permission to trademark his work.
2 A Standard Character Mark
Much like the previous trademark, the registration covers a series of downloadable e-books and books in the field of romance.
Unlike the last registration mentioned, this is a broader registration covering any use of the word cocky in branding or titling. See the second trademark here.
The registration for the standard character mark is April 17, 2018. Faleena originally filed both trademarks on September 12, 2017.
Faleena shares on her Twitter profile how she seems to be enjoying the limelight by stating:
I am #byeFaleena. Blushing smiley face emoji. Let the public stoning commence. I’ll be over here eating ice cream. Mmmm. Mint Chocolate Chip. So good.
She isn’t budging on her stance. Will enough indie authors or the publishing community work together to repeal this trademark registration?
A Sign of What’s to Come?
What exactly does this mean for the publishing industry as a whole?
Will we have to file a trademark for all our titles just to publish a book?
Though I’m one to make a few jokes and laugh, we do need to take this seriously.
Faleena is not the first nor the last to file a trademark on a common word.
Now other shrewd authors are aware of this business tactic. Can we expect to see the end of all creative book titling in the foreseeable future?
Will we have to resort to publishing books with numerical titles if all useable words carry a trademark?
What Do You Think About #CockyGate?
If you are in favor of Faleena Hopkins, then feel free to drop her words of encouragement at her YouTube channel Faleena Hopkins Official or her Twitter profile @FaleenaHopkins.
Or, if you want your voice to be heard, then join the petition on MoveOn.org at the quick link of SelfPublishingWithDale.com/Petition where they plan to file a letter of protest with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Or, if you want to go it alone and file your own letter of protest with the US Patent and Trademark Office, simply head to the quick link of SelfPublishingWithDale.com/protest.
Bestselling author and retired lawyer, Kevin Kneupper shared on Twitter he filed a letter of protest and made a copy available through a Dropbox link on his Twitter profile @kneupperwriter.
In the meantime, if you found this post useful, then share it with other’s who’ll would find it insightful too. Till later, this has been Self Publishing with Dale, and I’ll catch you soon.
Under the Fair Use doctrine, a trademark may be used without permission for commentary or criticism as long as the purpose of the use is not the same purpose of the trademark. This doctrine includes informational, editorial, and comparative purposes.