I was a bit dumbfounded when I stumbled into Facebook drama earlier this week. It was from a fellow indie author who was talking about something with the hashtag #cockygate. Curious, I inquired about it and was shocked to find out that an indie Romance author by the name of Faleena Hopkins trademarked the word “cocky.”
So instead of reacting like a spoiled, self-indulgent millennial that I occasionally am, I decided to do some research into it and figure out what was happening. That of course meant that I went directly to YouTube and entered into the search bar “#cockygate.”
Of course, I should mention that this isn’t the first time someone has tried to do this. The Fine Brothers, creators of Fine Brother’s Entertainment or better known for the React Channel on YouTube, attempted to do this with the word “react” back in 2016. Less than a week later, the brothers rescinded all trademarks for the word due to pressure from the internet.
Watching this current situation, I’m not sure Hopkins will follow the Fine Brother’s example.
If you take a look at the trademark claim, which you can look it up at http://www.tmsearch.uspto.gov and search for “cocky,” you’ll see that the trademark is only for the stylized font of the word and not the word itself. So theoretically, Hopkins should only be issuing copyright claims if an author was using this trademarked style. It’s similar to if I would try to publish a book with Disney’s styling of words.
Except, it’s gone a bit off the rails. It’s been reported that authors who are using the word “cocky” in their titles, not the trademarked stylized version, are receiving takedown notices. To get an excellent explanation, better than what I could do, watch the video by mundanematt. He does a good job of explaining the matter.
Some of you might be thinking what’s the problem. Because it won’t end with Hopkins trademarking the word “cocky.” There are reports of someone trying to trademark the word “rebellion.” What’s next? If these trademarks aren’t dealt with then no word is safe.
My books have a theme to them. They all start out “The Book of…” and then finish with the main character’s name. They’re in the horror genre, but there’s a biblical theme to them, you get the idea. What happens if someone trademarks the word “book?” Will I be sent one of these take down notices and forced to either change my titles or hire a lawyer? I’m not rich like Stephen King or James Patterson and cannot afford to do either.
What Hopkins is attempting to do is just plain terrible. It takes time and money to change your book title. You also have to think about the marketing aspect. Your readers have to be informed that you’ve changed your title.
It’s also disgusting. Imagine being a chef. You’ve just started this great job at a restaurant. It’s your life’s dream. Then another chef from a different restaurant walks in and picks up your secret ingredient that you use in your specialty recipes. “Sorry, but I’ve banned anyone else from using this ingredient. You’ll just have to use something else.” Because you’re new at being a chef, you don’t want trouble from the more experienced chef that’s opened up 17 restaurants in the past so you use another ingredient. It’s not as good, but you have to make do without that key ingredient.
Words are ingredients for authors. They combine them with others to form intricate recipes called novels. Now, because of this cocky kerfuffle, we can’t use the word “cocky” in our titles. Hopkins has crippled her fellow chefs. In her video defending herself, she doesn’t see any issue in what’s she’s doing. In the new Avengers: Infinity Wars (2018), Thanos didn’t see any issue in what he did either. Hopkins snapped her fingers and disintegrated one word from existence.
Just let this sink in: Villains always believe they’re doing the right thing.