EFF on Cockygate: trademark trolls vs romance literature

Romance author Faleena Hopkins earned the wrong kind of notoriety when she registered a trademark on the word "cocky" for use in romance novel titles and then began indiscriminately threatening to sue her peers for using this common trope.

It's earned Hopkins a spot in EFF's Hall of Shame. Katharine Trendacosta describes Hopkins' wide-ranging abuses, and the dubiousness of her trademark:

There's a lot that went wrong here. Hopkins was able to get a trademark and use it to intimidate authors like T.L. Smith and Melissa Jane into throwing away money to change the title of a book when they didn't have to. Even when faced with an illegitimate claim, independent authors won't always have the resources to fight back.

Amazon's quick draw on suspensions is also very dangerous—and reminiscent of what we see all the time in copyright takedowns. Even though a claim is bogus or based in an overinclusive trademark, creators who don't have the resources to fight back are still deprived of a large marketplace. If companies like Amazon act unthinkingly in response to infringement claims, even shaky ones, it creates a sledgehammer that is all too simple to wield. And not everyone is going to be lucky enough to generate enough noise to get backup.

Author Trademarks the Word 'Cocky,' Earns the Ire of Romance Writers Everywhere
[Katharine Trendacosta/EFF Deeplinks]