Had you heard about this?
I heard about it on Twitter first, and now The Passive Guy has a post about it.
The comments on both posts are quite educational and sometimes funny, so click through and read some of those if you have time.
Here’s an example of a threat that an author named Jamilla Jasper received:
My name is Faleena Hopkins, author of Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series,
The Federal Trademark Commission has granted me the official registered trademark of the word/mark “Cocky”, no matter the font.
Trademark Registration number: 5447836
I am writing to you out of professional respect so that you may rename your book “Cocky Cowboy” which shares the same title as my book, and republish all of the versions (ebook, paperback, and Audible) on Amazon to keep your ratings and money earned. My attorney at Morris Yom Entertainment Law has advised me that if I sue you I will win all the monies you have earned on this title, plus lawyer fees will be paid by you as well. I will do that – but I would rather give you the option. I have had this series established since June 16, 2016 and I take all of the hard work I put into establishing it very seriously. Your hard work I also take seriously.
You have the opportunity to adjust, rename, and republish before taking further action. You can do so on Amazon without losing reviews.
Can you imagine? I mean, really?
It makes me want to immediately write a romance novel with “cocky” in the title so that I could get one of these threats and compose a suitable answer. Though you’d think her lawyer would tell her she is out on a very thin limb here, apparently Hopkins is still sending these types of letters to people and continues to try to get Amazon to remove random romances with “cocky” in the title from their ebook store and so on. This suggests she genuinely thinks she has a case. And yet … suppose that she thinks she is completely right, legally. I know, but just suppose that she does. Even if she were correct legally, which seems quiiiite unlikely given the comments at Passive Voice, this would still be such a mean, bullying thing to do. I’m glad to learn that trademarking random words for your own special use is not possible, but who … who … would think of trying to do it and then bullying random people for daring to use Your Special Word? What an unpleasant person this Hopkins seems to be.
Well, at least a lot of authors, including me, are learning something about trademark law from this, so that’s a plus.