A Ridiculous Expansion to CockyGate

A Ridiculous Expansion to CockyGate

The grab for common words in USA-based fiction publishing quickly grew into one Hell of a cocked-up situation.

CockyGate involves deception, bullying, and risks to the publishing industry as a whole. Romance Writers of America and Authors Guild have support the scattered authors and publishers who were threatened with legal action or who watched their titles dropped from distribution.

Can’t say where, because I flit around the web too much, but I have seen talk about how this ordeal inspires others. If Hopkins can get away with claiming “cocky” (which is still to be determined in court), then they can claim whichever words they use in book titles. Now, that might seem to balance on the ridiculous and the hateful — and I agree with your perception — but it’s also a real threat.

One of the latest expansions on CockyGate is that a self-described friend of Hopkins appears to be filing words and phrases in the same manner.

Author Michael-Scott Earle, doing business as MSE Media, LLC, filed standard word marks for “Dragon Slayer”, “Tamer”, “The Destroyer”, and “Star Justice“. MSE Media, LLC, is a six-month old company in Texas. It’s a very new startup.

Look, it’s possible to file a word mark meant to protect a unique brand, but that doesn’t appear to be what Michael-Scott Earle is doing with his titles.

Trademark: Dragon Slayer

Like… the Dragonslayer movie from the 1980s? I actually own that movie on DVD. The space dividing the words is an insignificant variance for a trademark.

Oh, and there’s the novelization by Wayland Drews. Readers remember that book.

UPDATE, June 23, 2018: Giving Earle the benefit of doubt feels overly generous considering his timing and association to Hopkins, who abused the system. I’m not trusting him. What I want to point out for anyone submitting letters of protest is that a movie or standalone book should not be in competition with Earle’s claim on “Dragon Slayer” as a series title.

Trademark: Tamer

Just… weird.

“Tamer” is a single word that is not unique to or commonly associated with Earle’s work. When I look for a MSE series, I find the Tamer: King of Dinosaurs books. Also, a separate application was made for “KING OF DINOSAURS”.

How does that make any sense?

Trademark: Destroyer

Here’s the mark filing that gets to me as a fiction reader.

I mean, seriously? Is this new mid-lister attempting to go up against Remo Williams? The Destroyer books under Warren Murphy’s byline are too well established not to come up as an example of popular use. Downloads of the Murphy books are sold on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. This application is obviously wrong.

Would the USPTO notice without help? Who knows. The good news is that they’ll have help.

Of course there are other popular uses, which means more people watching.

Trademark: Star Justice

One mark that doesn’t seem worth mentioning is “STAR JUSTICE” in what would appear to be a legitimate claim on Earle’s series title. It would appear that way if the publishing industry could trust the applicant to file cease and desist letters against other uses, like his friend did.

Who is This MSE? Rumors

Authors who recognize Michael-Scott Earle by name say he’s gotten himself banned from author groups. (Happens, but why was he…?) He may have been involved with the Sad/Rabid Puppies in the Hugo Awards ploy years back. (Hard to prove.)

I’ll share if I find anything that might explain these trademark filings.

The bulging point of this post is to update peers on the situation. Feel free to send me any important edits or share information below.

5 thoughts on “A Ridiculous Expansion to CockyGate

  1. MSE has added more ridiculousness to is TM claims.


    TLDR version, a cover lay out where the series/title is at the top, there’s an illustration with a person holding a weapon, and the author name at the bottom.

    Here’s a statement made by MSE recently in a Facebook writing group where he tries to invent a reality where the other The Destroyer and Dragon Slayer titles don’t exist:

    “Hey all.

    So here is the deal. A few months ago, Jason Cipriano came up with the idea for Star Conqueror. It was similar to Star Justice and Death Ship in concept, somewhat, but he showed me the outline and I thought it sounded like a great idea that wasn’t copying me at all.

    Fast forward to the day the book came out, and I had several dozens of people PM or email me to say “I thought this book was yours because the cover looks exactly like one of your covers, and I bought it. Do you know Jason is trying to rip you off?”

    I of course, told them that he wasn’t ripping me off, but it got me thinking that I really don’t have any sort of protection if someone wants to do a “Star Justice” series, or a “Tamer” series, or a “Destroyer” series or a “Dragon Slayer” series. I’ve created those books, and there currently isn’t anyone else doing series like those, and they are ripe for nefarious authors to rip off.

    And I can’t do anything about it unless I own the trademark.

    So I’ve filed trademarks for those things, since they are series I’ve created, and they have value. If I get them, it doesn’t mean I can just crush any author who has a book named “Dragon Slayer” it just means that I have leverage in case someone comes out with a series named “Dragon Slayer” that is obviously trying to capitalize on my hard work.

    This is something every publishing company does with their series that performs.

    The trade address is encompassing my formatting. It’s a pretty long shot that I can get it, but even if I do, it will be pretty impossible to enforce… Unless I have dozens of people saying that they bought someone else’s book thinking it was mine. Then, combined with the TM and customer emails, I have a better case to get the offending book taken down.

    Hope that makes sense. I’m trying to protect my business- mostly because I see all the crazy stuff going on in the romance genre, and I realize that other authors will gladly steal from me if they don’t think I can come after them. “


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