Stop for a moment, will you? You’re reading this, presumably from my blog, which is a space to talk about erotic romance, speculative fiction, and the politics of technology. At this time, I can’t think of any event that brings those topics together with more immediacy than CockyGate.
In my previous post, I assumed readers had heard of this hoopla. You can find discussions on the original “COCKY” filing elsewhere by looking up #cockygate or recent post that mentions Faleena Hopkins, AKA Sabrina Lacey. She filed her marks with the USPTO as her business, Hop Hop Productions, Inc.
Here’s where the primary fight over the “COCKY” filing stands, stripped to a single quote by The Authors Guild.
The Authors Guild and the Romance Writers of America (RWA) joined forces in this case to defend the principle that no one should be able to own exclusive rights to use a common word in book or book series titles. In ruling against the author Faleena Hopkins, who claimed exclusive rights to “cocky” for romance titles, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York, stated that he did not believe that Hopkins was likely to succeed on the merits.
A cancellation is pending. By now, however, it’s clear that more than independent publishing is involved in trademark abuse that goes beyond one word.
I just looked at the trademark app for “Rebellion” and holy shizzle, people, they want to apply it to EVERY DAMN THING (including romance!). I can’t even show you the whole list in pics. EPIC OVERREACH. #RebellionGate #ohhellno pic.twitter.com/mELNa64eQk
— Jackie Barbosa Gets Cocky (@jackiebarbosa) May 10, 2018
Hopkins’ cocky move was only a start. Honestly, MSE Media, LLC’s filings to claim “The Destroyer” (as well as “Dragon Slayer”, “Tamer”, “Star Justice”, and “King of Dinosaurs”) for “downloadable series of fiction books” riled me up because of how the abuse continues to creep across the genres.
Not only creators, but everyone who engages with media (you know, everyone) can care at least a tiny bit about these claims on common words.
How to Help Fight the Word Abuse
Contribute to your author’s association if you’re a part of one. Like I showed above, Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Authors Guild are already in the court fights. Other associations will likely need to step in if their authors cry out against direct threats.
Watch for overreaching filings of common words.
On Twitter, you can follow the writer and retired lawyer Kevin Kneupper (@kneupperwriter), who’s volunteering his time to protest, or a watchbot like @CockyBot. CockyBot is also helping to coordinate official protests.
When you spot suspicious filings, submit a Letter of Protest to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Supposedly, the letters don’t matter as much as the documentation.
Here’s an example. I like using Goodreads because they list the publication date in the search lists. I attached 3 pages of this, with anything I thought that stood out (like earlier pub date or # of results) circled. pic.twitter.com/AfSeOGYAbo
— Rick Gualtieri (@RickGualtieri) June 14, 2018
More tips and a description of the process are available at “How to Track and Fight Bad Trademarks” by Jami Gold.
Just, resist the abuse, folks.
Thanks for your time.