It’s everybody’s favourite, month of May, trademark story and it hasn’t ended well for romance novelist Faleena Hopkins. The Guardian newspaper picks up the story
Romance writers around the world can breathe a sigh of relief after a US court ruled that they can continue to use the adjective “cocky” in their book titles, after one author attempted to stop other writers from using the word.
In September 2017, self-published author Faleena Hopkins filed a trademark claim for the word “cocky” in relation to a romance novel series, which was registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office in April 2018. Only series can be registered as trademarks, not individual titles, and common words can’t be registered at all, unless the public associates it with a particular use.
In May, several romance authors reported receiving letters from Hopkins asking them to stop using the word in their titles and requesting that they change them. Hopkins, according to the Authors Guild, later “tried to block the sale of books by other romance writers that included the word”. She then applied for a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to prevent the publication of a collection of stories by various authors, Cocktales: The Cocky Collective, which was written as an act of protest against Hopkins’s trademark.
Her lawsuit was filed against Tara Crescent, author of another book series that used the word “cocky”, the lawyer Kevin Kneupper, who had filed a legal challenge to have Hopkins’s trademark in “cocky” cancelled, and Cocktales’s publicist Jennifer Watson.
The Authors Guild and Romance Writers of America joined forces to provide Crescent with legal assistance and “defend the principle that no one should be able to own exclusive rights to use a common word” in book titles. They argued that “countless romance novels employed ‘cocky’” in their titles well before Hopkins laid claim to it, that “no one should hold a monopoly on cocky”, and that “cockiness (in all its permutations) remains as prevalent in romance novels as the use of stunning, scantily clad models on their covers”.
You may also be vaguely intrigued by this open letter she wrote to herself back in the beginning of May. Yes… we’re at a loss to explain it too !
“Dear Faleena of May 2nd, 2018,
When your private C&D letter is tweeted publicly, you will not have saved the money by writing them yourself since lawyers are so expensive and you’ve put all your money back into story-telling, all the many ways you publish and promote a book, casting narrators for audiobooks, paying models to play the characters in interviews, produce a feature film that starts shooting soon and a lot of cast and crew are counting on you with it.
You will not have saved money.
You will have made the worst mistake maybe of your life.
This is you-from-the-future speaking.
Believe me, I know, entertaining people is everything to you.
Because… I’m you.
But Faleena, your life is about to get really hard.”