Author Topic: Trademark, series, titles, and...yeah...lawsuits (Cockygate & ordinary-word TMs)  (Read 74871 times)  

Offline Victoria.T76

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Ouch. It looks like she's getting backlash.

I didn't think of that. I just wanted to note that I thought it was series focused. I'll remove the link from my post.

Offline SummerNights

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I wonder what Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland would have to say about that!
"Cocky B*stard" was a huge bestseller way before the TM holder published any of her series books.

Offline munboy

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Man, US tm laws are so antiquated and messed up.

If somebody owns "cocky" they could go after others, like tshirt designers who use cocky in a design. It's stupid.

Offline guerin

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I found the series this relates to EDITED: removed link, as whilst I do not agree with what she is doing, I would hate to direct people to her.

It seems to me the copyright relates to the series title only, and the word cocky can be used on a book title.

I believe this is the case. The TM is valid for only the series name and I think if you were to try and use it in the name of your series they would have a case. If you notice in the link I posted earlier, the TM symbol, the R inside of a circle, only appears in the series name and NOT the book title. The author also trademarked "Cocker Brothers".

Here is some interesting reading, yawn, yawn, on the subject. http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/titles.html

If you receive such a letter from an author, you are under no obligation to remove the word from your title.

Since you yourself are a writer, you should pen a nice response letter asking them to prove their claims. First, you would like to see a copy of all the Cease and Desist letters they have sent to the thousands of authors who published books with said word in the title prior to their TM registration. (Prepare a nice list for them to respond to. You can find a plethora of such books on Amazon.) Second, they should also provide you a list of all judgments from any court of law they have received against those, or any other authors, using said word in their book titles.

In other words, force them to pay for a lawyer first.


Offline Becca Mills

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There was a lot of discussion about this on the Author Support Network FB group last night. What I pulled from that discussion was that there was a comment period between when this was filed and when it was approved and that if someone had objected during that period it would've been easily thrown out. But no one was monitoring those filings so no one did. Now that the mark has been approved it becomes a much more serious issue and much harder to challenge. And anyone impacted by this needs to be very proactive about doing so.

I wonder if trademark applications posted for public comment are the sort of thing a group of author volunteers could monitor.

Offline VirginiaMcClain

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I believe this is the case. The TM is valid for only the series name and I think if you were to try and use it in the name of your series they would have a case. If you notice in the link I posted earlier, the TM symbol, the R inside of a circle, only appears in the series name and NOT the book title. The author also trademarked "Cocker Brothers".

Here is some interesting reading, yawn, yawn, on the subject. http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/titles.html

If you receive such a letter from an author, you are under no obligation to remove the word from your title.

Since you yourself are a writer, you should pen a nice response letter asking them to prove their claims. First, you would like to see a copy of all the Cease and Desist letters they have sent to the thousands of authors who published books with said word in the title prior to their TM registration. (Prepare a nice list for them to respond to. You can find a plethora of such books on Amazon.) Second, they should also provide you a list of all judgments from any court of law they have received against those, or any other authors, using said word in their book titles.

In other words, force them to pay for a lawyer first.

Indeed. It also details on the trademark certificate that it is for the word pertaining to romance series titles. Which is quite specific.
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Offline Bob Stewart

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There was a lot of discussion about this on the Author Support Network FB group last night. What I pulled from that discussion was that there was a comment period between when this was filed and when it was approved and that if someone had objected during that period it would've been easily thrown out. But no one was monitoring those filings so no one did. Now that the mark has been approved it becomes a much more serious issue and much harder to challenge. And anyone impacted by this needs to be very proactive about doing so.

I'm surprised they allowed it anyways.  And I believe  it could still be taken away if someone challenged it who'd been using it longer, or challenged it on the basis it's a generic term for bare-chested men. ;-)

But of course, who'd spend the money doing that...

Offline kw3000

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I've trademarked Planet Earth and the Moon. Good luck living on Mars, suckers! Don't let my newly private atmosphere hit ya on the way out.  8)

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I've trademarked Planet Earth and the Moon. Good luck living on Mars, suckers! Don't let my newly private atmosphere hit ya on the way out.  8)

So we rename it to Terra and continue living here.  Nice try!  :)


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Online Atlantisatheart

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I can see this going very badly for that author if other romance authors decide to set their pack of readers (wolves) on her. Bad reviews, no sales - etc.

What did she think she was doing? Something like this could end her career.

It's also absolutely stupid that the TM office allowed this to go through. Who watches the watchers for their screwy ideas?


Offline solo

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It is ridiculous. A common word being trademarked.

I don't suppose anybody has trademarked "romance" "love" "sci-fi" "mil-fic" "fantasy" "horror" etc? If not I've got dibs on all the categories. LOL.

That trademark sets a horrible precedent. And legally assailable. I don't know if the trademark meets the standards of the Madrid and Paris Conventions.

Offline SummerNights

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RWA is looking into it. If you have been affected by this, you should reach out to Carol Ritter.

Offline kw3000

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So we rename it to Terra and continue living here.  Nice try!  :)

Dang it, I should've known that guy at the laundromat wasn't really a lawyer.

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Offline Evenstar

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So we rename it to Terra and continue living here.  Nice try!  :)


But isn't that the point? She's trying to force people to rename!



Maybe this is naive of me but I'm amazed anyone took any notice at all. I'd be all, yeah right, whatever!

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Maybe this is naive of me but I'm amazed anyone took any notice at all. I'd be all, yeah right, whatever!

I think she's been clever, though. All she has to do is report an "offending" book to Amazon, point them in the direction of her trademark, and they'll do all the work for her and take it down.

Offline DonovanJeremiah

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Be right back, writing a series called Corky Berstards.

Offline Evenstar

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I think she's been clever, though. All she has to do is report an "offending" book to Amazon, point them in the direction of her trademark, and they'll do all the work for her and take it down.

Okay, yep, that's downright malicious.

Offline ShayneRutherford

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Be right back, writing a series called Corky Berstards.

The trademark is for the word, so if you just swap out the o for an asterisk you should be fine.
     

Offline David VanDyke

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Here is some interesting reading, yawn, yawn, on the subject. http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/titles.html

If you receive such a letter from an author, you are under no obligation to remove the word from your title.

Since you yourself are a writer, you should pen a nice response letter asking them to prove their claims. First, you would like to see a copy of all the Cease and Desist letters they have sent to the thousands of authors who published books with said word in the title prior to their TM registration. (Prepare a nice list for them to respond to. You can find a plethora of such books on Amazon.) Second, they should also provide you a list of all judgments from any court of law they have received against those, or any other authors, using said word in their book titles.

In other words, force them to pay for a lawyer first.



This.

Abusers are often successful because good people won't stand up to them. The good people think "the law is the law" and they comply. But laws are only laws in reality when they are enforced.

So, the best move is to politely tell Ms. Cocker to go ahead and try to enforce it. Fight fire with fire. Let her spend the money.

Now, if Amazon or others end up removing your books on the guilty-until-proven innocent principle, then that's another story. But, then at least you'll just be dealing with Amazon, and they usually eventually come around on these things.

Usually.

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« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 06:33:10 PM by David VanDyke »


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Offline inconsequential

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The trademark is for the word, so if you just swap out the o for an asterisk you should be fine.


Someone on Twitter said they contacted the TM office, and the gentleman on the phone said the TM is for any spelling of the word.

Don't know how true that is, because, you know, it was on Twitter. But it might have a longer reach than just changing the spelling or swapping out a letter with an asterisk.

Offline Acheknia

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I've just trademarked the term "Bad Boy" within a series title. Please change all your titles immediately, or pay me one million dollars per book to continue usage.

My new title will be 'Bad Boys,' so there!

Only joking, I don't write romance or anything that would suit that title :)

Offline Becca Mills

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By the way, I call "Space Opera."

Too late, I already got "space." And "opera." Feeling a little bad for Verdi, but oh well.

Offline EB

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Someone on Twitter said they contacted the TM office, and the gentleman on the phone said the TM is for any spelling of the word.


yeah, I saw that, too. It will be interesting if RWA gets involved as well.

In the meantime, I call dibs on the word "time". I should be able to knock out my entire time-travel romance genre with that one.

Offline guerin

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I'd like to clarify something here. I've noticed that this author has been getting some bad press and there are only accusations, at least that I can find, that she has actually used this TM to threaten or bully anyone. Let's wait and see if any of these accusations are true before we decide to judge this author. I didn't post the link to one of her books for people to go and jump all over her. I posted it to show the use of the TM in this case.

One of the links I posted earlier explained some reasons that authors might be best served by using the trademark system. I don't have a problem with anybody protecting their IP by using a TM to protect their interests in cases where a copyright is insufficient. One of the cases raised in the link I posted was that a copyright might not be enough to protect your pen name.

To the chagrin of many, the courts and the Copyright Office have made a bright-line policy determination that titles, names (including pen names), short phrases and mere listings of ingredients (as in recipes), no matter how clever, do not possess enough original expression to warrant copyright protection.

If this author is using the TM to protect her work, I'm all for that. If she's using it to unjustly intimidate other authors, I'm against it, and I think the courts will be as well.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 03:40:22 PM by guerin »

Offline Phoenix61

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« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 03:46:18 PM by Becca Mills »
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