Romance author trademarks the word ‘cocky,’ sending other romance writers into an uproar

From The National Post:

Here is a list of just some popular romance novel titles: Cocky Bastard, Cocky Chef, Cocky Biker, Cocky Fiancé, Cocky Cage Fighter, Cocky Client, Her Cocky Doctors, Mr. Cocky, My Cocky Cowboy, The Cocky Thief and, my personal favourite, simply, Cocky.

Notice a pattern? Yes, romance literature loves a rugged, arrogant heartthrob. And a double-entendre.

 But with an entire 17-book series based on a pair of, well, cocky bastards, writer Faleena Hopkins decided to trademark not just the title of her series, Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, but the word “cocky” itself.

It’s worth noting that Hopkins’s trademark for “cocky” is as a word mark, meaning a text-only logo treatment of the word. Hopkins has a specific font and style for her use of the word, so if others use that same style, they’d have a problem.

. . . .

Despite this, and what looks like a misunderstanding of her own trademark, Hopkins has been sending various romance authors, including Nana Malone, Jamila Jasper and Claire Kingsley, who have used the word “cocky” in their book titles, copyright notices and cease-and-desist letters, even regarding those books that were previously published.

On Twitter, Hopkins defended herself against claims of copyright bullying, saying, “Copying a series to be found in keywords is the money grab. They keep their money and everything if they retitle. I am taking nothing.”

Link to the rest at The National Post

5 thoughts on “Romance author trademarks the word ‘cocky,’ sending other romance writers into an uproar”

  1. Trademark abuse at its finest.

    Writers *do* lose money when they have to retitle everything. They lose it in cover fees (all those lovely covers have to be redone, at a hefty cost) and they lose it in reader loyalty. Readers don’t like being yanked around. Period, the end. Switching out titles makes it look like an author has a new book on the market.

    Hopkins needs a good legal set-to on this one.

  2. Re books with the same title: I’ve been getting some of my romances back from Harlequin (rights reversions) and have to consider whether to keep the titles, some of which I didn’t choose and am not crazy about. Many are among zillions with the same name, e.g.: The Runaway Bride and A Ghost of a Chance.

    I did retitle these (Run, Run, Runaway Bride and The Ghost and Cheri). It had zero impact on sales, as far as I can tell, so I quit doing it. Just put out Mistletoe Daddy, one of several on Amazon. Doing well.

    On the other hand, I did trademark my series Safe Harbor Medical–17 romances and now three mysteries in a spin-off series. Not Safe Harbor, but Safe Harbor Medical. Nobody else was using it. I checked and I believe(d) the Trademark Office did, too.

    I wouldn’t get cocky about it, though.

    • Trademarking a unique phrase is proper use of the system. Lots of companies in lots of businesses do it.

      Trademarking a single word in common use in the field is neither common nor proper. An example will be made. That will be very proper.

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