NetGalley

Author Topic: Trademark, series, titles, and...yeah...lawsuits (Cockygate & ordinary-word TMs)  (Read 74870 times)  

Offline Day Leitao

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Author Sites
My source for the comments on copyright infringement is a comment on this post:

http://legalinspiration.com/?p=503

But of course, this is an anonymous comment and we can't know anything for sure.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 03:53:12 PM by Day Leitao »

Online LMareeApps

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
  • Australia
    • View Profile
    • L Maree Apps - Contemporary Erotic Romance... not your nana's bedtime stories...
As far as I can tell, according to TESS, she didn't trademark the series name, she trademarked the appearance of the word on her books for branding purposes. There's a lot of misinformation floating around. Remember, anyone can claim anything. Authors who think they might be affected need to talk to an IP lawyer.

For what it's worth, while she did TM the stylised version for her cover (and, besides TMing a font she allegedly had no rights to TM, no-one I've seen has a problem with this), she also TMed the standard word.  It is her 2nd TM and her cease and desists letters based on the second TM that is the foundation of this situation.

In regards to reader backlash, I believe that stems from her attempt to blame reader ignorance for her need to target other authors using her TM series word in their titles.  Readers (at least the ones that responded to her 'explanation' on Twitter) were unimpressed at her implication they were too stupid to recognise differences in author names.

The other issue that has people more emotionally invested than they would otherwise be, is that she's claiming she had to do it because people were copying her, yet her earliest versions of the books were extremely influenced by existing books already using that same branding.  She TMed her original series title, and no-one had problems with that as it was distinct to her work. But then she changed her series title to the more generic and commonly used word, and that is what has led to the situation we have now.

I really think her actions started with good intentions, but her ego took over, and now pride is preventing her from putting her hands up and saying 'yes, I overstepped. I'm sorry.'  Instead she's standing firm, saying 'don't call me out on my morally-deficient behaviour, that's bullying me,' which is creating even more ire in the community.

Edited for bad grammar  :-[
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 04:09:06 PM by LMareeApps »

Offline Day Leitao

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Author Sites
Ok, I shouldn't be reading about this, but somehow this case interested me.

The Cocky Author has a blog post from January, 2018 explaining about her process of shooting her own covers. So far so good.

But when she explains the reasons, she claims that other authors were copying her on purpose by choosing the same images  ???. She also says that her readers got upset when they saw her "characters" ( the stock images)  on other people's covers or ads.

She claims:

Quote
But their instincts that some - not all, but some - of these authors were copying me on purpose, were founded in truth.


I'm actually worried about this author. Really worried.

And still, this is the kind of thing that can happen in any genre where there are similar titles, similar font styles, similar images... So that's why this trademark situation is problematic.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 04:31:04 PM by Day Leitao »

Offline Crystal_

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2358
  • Gender: Female
  • Portland, OR
    • View Profile
Just to lighten things up a bit, check out this hilarious cover by M. H. Soars: https://www.facebook.com/bookcoverluv/photos/a.2019957528250359.1073741828.1988676604711785/2100538143525630/.

M.H. Soars, if you're reading this -- I have an opening for your book:

"You're cocky," she said looking up from his pet cock.
He grinned cockily. "Sue me."

Hmm... I can't say I'm impressed as multiple people have suggested to me that this author copied my series asthetic. I thought it was my ego tripping, but I'm not so sure. I'm not a huge author by any means but for awhile I was putting out the most successful indie series in my niche. I had a lot of people who were obviously riffing off my covers. Sometimes it was too close for comfort.

I don't think there's anything you can do about copycats. I do sympathize with the issue, but I don't think the author is going about this in the right way.

That said, I also think getting catty about it and calling her names is mean and unproductive. I haven't seen that here but I saw it everywhere on social media.

Offline C. Gockel

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4529
  • Chicago, IL
    • View Profile
The other issue that has people more emotionally invested than they would otherwise be ...

I think the other issue is the potential of people with deep pockets to basically come after just about ANYONE.
The precedent is frightening.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 07:29:56 PM by C. Gockel »


I write books about Change, Chaos, and Loki
C. Gockel | facebook | tumblr | website

Offline Evelyn Alexie

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 176
    • View Profile
I don't think there's anything you can do about copycats. I do sympathize with the issue, but I don't think the author is going about this in the right way.

That said, I also think getting catty about it and calling her names is mean and unproductive. I haven't seen that here but I saw it everywhere on social media.

Agreed. I've been reading the Twitter storm in fascination... it's like watching a road accident in slow motion, 140 characters at a time... but I think a lesson can be learned.
If a whole lot of people on social media are telling you you're wrong, with or without name calling, then either
a) stand by your guns and make your case calmly, sticking to facts and avoiding feelings or
b) apologize, whether you believe you were wrong or not.
She chose c) snarkasm, which only made the situation worse by feeding the emotional response.

I hope I'm never in the position she's in now--I doubt she's very happy at the moment--but if I am, I'll try to take the high road. If nothing else, the view's better.
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

Online cvwriter

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 551
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Courtney Vail
There's a whole thread in the book corner here with book covers that all have the same girl in a blue dress looking over her shoulder.

Just sayin'.


:P

I haven't even gone over to check and I'm pretty sure I know what dress pic that is.
Get it FREE >> Get it FREE >>       

Online LMareeApps

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
  • Australia
    • View Profile
    • L Maree Apps - Contemporary Erotic Romance... not your nana's bedtime stories...
I think the other issue is the potential of people with deep pockets to basically come after just about ANYONE as long as their pockets are deep enough.

The precedent is frightening.

There is that too.  The precedence-setting issue is driving many authors to tune in to the situation who otherwise might have ignored it.

Offline Gentleman Zombie

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 850
    • View Profile
I really don't care about this one author in particular. I'm more concerned that I (and many other indies) have been pretty lazy when it comes to protecting our intellectual property.  I'm small potatoes-- but what's to stop some big media company from swooping in and stealing my work? Or sending me a surprise cease and desist because my work is similar to theirs?

I'm not even close to being a lawyer, but this mess has prompted me to research ways to establish a defensible copyright.  Those of us who've been around a long time forget this is still a very young industry. But it's marching towards the big leagues-- and a lot of us have taken no steps to protect our intellectual property. That way if we get a crazy legal notice we can counter it with a "no way my copyright was officially established on *insert date*" response.

Offline ........

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 140
    • View Profile
I'm sure over the next few weeks people will be digging up cover designs that predate hers... the scripty word profession/relationship format for titles has been around for a long time.

I find it extremely hard to believe a large number of readers were confused by other titles with cocky in them. And confused to the point that the author had to get a trademark to prevent such widespread confusion.

Given she has involvement in film perhaps the move was more pushed by trying to sell rights or something similar.

Offline ........

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 140
    • View Profile
I really don't care about this one author in particular. I'm more concerned that I (and many other indies) have been pretty lazy when it comes to protecting our intellectual property.  I'm small potatoes-- but what's to stop some big media company from swooping in and stealing my work? Or sending me a surprise cease and desist because my work is similar to theirs?

I'm not even close to being a lawyer, but this mess has prompted me to research ways to establish a defensible copyright.  Those of us who've been around a long time forget this is still a very young industry. But it's marching towards the big leagues-- and a lot of us have taken no steps to protect our intellectual property. That way if we get a crazy legal notice we can counter it with a "no way my copyright was officially established on *insert date*" response.

This isn't really some groundbreaking trademark that will alter the landscape forever. It's fairly typical of a Government process that often produces stupid outcomes. The patent system has seen this plenty of times with people getting patents just to show how poor the system functions.

All that happened here is that no one knew the trademark application was underway. No one knew during the opposition period. If anyone who'd published a Cocky Whatever book prior to her had filed an opposition the application would have fallen over probably.



Offline marissa_lopez

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 50
    • View Profile
Just to lighten things up a bit, check out this hilarious cover by M. H. Soars: https://www.facebook.com/bookcoverluv/photos/a.2019957528250359.1073741828.1988676604711785/2100538143525630/.

M.H. Soars, if you're reading this -- I have an opening for your book:

"You're cocky," she said looking up from his pet cock.
He grinned cockily. "Sue me."

The cover is cute

Offline MelanieCellier

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 625
  • Gender: Female
  • Australia
    • View Profile
I haven't even gone over to check and I'm pretty sure I know what dress pic that is.

Ok, now Im curious :D Can we get a link to this thread?

/thread derail

Melanie Cellier | Website | Facebook

Offline Phoenix61

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 120
  • Gender: Male
  • Moulamein NSW Australia
  • An Aussie author with an Aussie flavour
    • View Profile
    • Josef Peeters
In Australia, a cocky, is a land/station/ranch owner, and also an abbreviation for a Cockatoo. So a title about a Cow Cocky playing with his pet Cocky is a no-no now? Sheesh! This is getting beyond absurd. The drama just keeps pouring in. I am glad that people are fighting this. It is a precedent that bodes badly for the industry.
Black Heart: 90%

Mt. Moulamein: 45%

Wood Whisperer Volume 3: 95%
Josef Peeters | Website

Offline Rob Martin

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 196
  • Gender: Male
  • New York
    • View Profile
    • Robert Martin Writes
I just scrolled through the twitter feed, and wow...just wow.

Online Jan Hurst-Nicholson

  • Status: Isaac Asimov
  • ********
  • Posts: 10766
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Don't let your emotions overpower your intellect
    • View Profile
    • www.just4kix.jimdo.com
I wonder what this has done for her book sales  ::)

Fiction, family saga, humour, short stories, teen, children's
Jan Hurst-Nicholson | author website

Online LMareeApps

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
  • Australia
    • View Profile
    • L Maree Apps - Contemporary Erotic Romance... not your nana's bedtime stories...
Ok, now Im curious :D Can we get a link to this thread?

/thread derail

I don't think it's the same thread mentioned above, but this post refers to the thread mentioned, and shows all the covers with the blue dress:
https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,246616.msg3434063.html#msg3434063

Offline Rob Martin

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 196
  • Gender: Male
  • New York
    • View Profile
    • Robert Martin Writes
I don't think it's the same thread mentioned above, but this post refers to the thread mentioned, and shows all the covers with the blue dress:
https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,246616.msg3434063.html#msg3434063

LMAO. It was like looking at a room full of mirrored reflections, lol.

Offline Kal241

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 759
  • Gender: Male
  • Things are never what they seem
    • View Profile
The Court of Public Opinion can be much stronger than a Court of Law. If enough impacted authors made public statements of what was happening, the author might well be embarrassed into backing down. It has been known to happen when enough bad publicity hits that a TM holder will back off an obviously poorly thought-out enforcement.

Trademarking the phrase and trade dress (font and color choices) is one thing, and that isn't a problem. Attacking ANY romance author with the word "cocky" in the title needs some public ridicule.

I seem to recall the book Spots The Space Marine being caught up in a trademark fiasco like this when Games Workshop claimed trademark of the term "Space Marine." Lots of authors cried out in protest. Spot wasn't the only victim, though eventually he did return after GW failed to enforce on a cease and desist order and Amazon republished the book.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 12:03:20 AM by Kal241 »

An artist and a writer combined into one being. When you work with Kal, you get a 2-4-1 deal!  

Check out my artistry at: http://kal241.deviantart.com/
Writing samples of mine will be made available upon request.

Offline ........

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 140
    • View Profile
Excellent commentary on The Passive Voice: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/trademark-cockup/

Online PaulineMRoss

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3151
  • Gender: Female
  • Nairn, Scotland
    • View Profile
    • The Brightmoon Annals
Excellent commentary on The Passive Voice: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/trademark-cockup/

Yes, an aspect that no one else has picked up on, viz, that trademarks belong to the first to *use* them, regardless of when or if they register them. The mere act of registration doesn't confer any rights if there was a prior user.
   

Pauline M. Ross (epic fantasy) Website | Mary Kingswood (Regency romances) Website 
Bookbub status: 2 for 70

Offline Hoop

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 58
    • View Profile
To be fair, I haven't seen her mock, belittle, or call anyone names. That's all been hearsay. She might not seem to understand exactly what a trademark is, but most of the people talking about this don't appear to, either. On the flip side, I've seen a lot of "professionals" publicly calling her some pretty nasty names.
Check her Facebook author page, where she puts up a photo of Jamila Jasper's cover and then refers to Jamila as "hacks like these".
« Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 03:14:18 AM by Hoop »

Online Ann in Arlington

  • Global Moderator
  • Status: Shakespeare
  • *****
  • Posts: 65323
  • Gender: Female
  • Arlington, VA
  • Laugh Loud. Run Fast. Be Kind.
    • View Profile
Ok, now Im curious :D Can we get a link to this thread?

/thread derail

It's in the very long thread about historical romance. Here's a link to one post with lots of examples: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,63555.msg3531507.html#msg3531507

There were others earlier in the thread but that was the first one I located.

I don't think it's the same thread mentioned above, but this post refers to the thread mentioned, and shows all the covers with the blue dress:
https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,246616.msg3434063.html#msg3434063

oh, yeah . . .that's a great one as well. :D

My Kindles
Nautilus (Voyage)
Oasis 2016
AquaKindle
Godric's Hollow (Basic)
S7Edge (KApp for Android)
Galaxy (KApp for Android)
(Make your own reading bar) | Ann Von Hagel | Arlington, VA | kboards  MODERATOR