Since May 4, the romance novel world has been in a spin after author Faleena Hopkins trademarked the single word “cocky.” Since then, the whole debacle has been dubbed with he hashtag, cockygate. While trademarks are usually issued for unique words (such as made up words like “Pepsi” or “Kleenex”), or are issued in relation to the word being used exclusively in a particular font or stylized formation, this trademark was issued for the use of a common usage word with and without a font identifier.
While the author also trademarked her book series, The Cocker Brothers (also now known as The Cocky Series), it was the single usage word of “cocky” that angered the writing world. Along with the fact she started sending out cease and desist letters to authors who used the word “cocky” in their book titles. To many, the letter also appeared to be written by the author herself and not by a legal professional, since terms such as “I will win all the monies” were used in the initial letter, such as the one that the author Jamila Jasper released via her Twitter account.
Hopkins identified the word for use only in the romance genre and for use in a series of books. This means that, if you write a book called The Cocky Spaceman and it is a standalone Sci-fi novel, you are fine. However, if you were to write a book called My Cocky Astronaut and it is within a series of romance novels, you are infringing on Faleena’s trademark. While the trademark does narrow down the usage of the word within a specific genre of romance novels, it still sets a worrying precedent within a genre that relies heavily on tropes and keywords to identify sub-genres. After all, when a single word without identifying features is trademarked, who is to stop more trademarks on common romance trope words such as “billionaire,” “Regency,” or “Highlander”?
If you want to read more about the origins of cockygate, you can do so with this Inquisitr article.
While Faleena Hopkins went relatively quiet after she first issued her cease and desist letters, she came forth once more to issue legal proceedings against author Tara Crescent, publicist Jennifer Watson, and legal professional Kevin Kneupper. You can read more about the legal proceedings in this Inquisitr article. According to the Romance Authors of America (RWA), these legal proceedings will begin in court tomorrow, June 1.
Now, the author has issued a letter to her “former self” in regard to cockygate. In it, she begins by telling her former self of May 2 that things are about to get really difficult. She also publicly admits that she wrote the cease and desist (C&D) letter herself.
“Dear Faleena of May 2nd, 2018,
When your private C&D letter is tweeted publicly, you will not have saved the money by writing them yourself since lawyers are so expensive and you’ve put all your money back into story-telling, all the many ways you publish and promote a book, casting narrators for audiobooks, paying models to play the characters in interviews, produce a feature film that starts shooting soon and a lot of cast and crew are counting on you with it.
You will not have saved money.
You will have made the worst mistake maybe of your life.
This is you-from-the-future speaking.
Believe me, I know, entertaining people is everything to you.
Because… I’m you.
But Faleena, your life is about to get really hard.”
The letter is long and she admits that she should have had a legal profession write up her initial cease and desist letter. She also blames authors for making this letter public for all the world to see. In fact, she sees this as the catalyst for her downfall.
In the open letter, Hopkins states that other authors have accused her of bullying those authors who have the word “cocky” in their titles. Her response was that you can’t “bully upwards,” indicating that the author she asked to change the title was much more popular than her in regard to romance books and therefore, cannot claim she was bullied by Faleena into changing her title.
Along with this, she claims authors have bullied her in return. She indicates that many authors have since left one-star reviews on her books on GoodReads, which has dropped her overall star ranking from 4.4 to 3.5. A claim that has since been disputed by popular romance author Suzan Tisdale and her current ranking still stands at 4.49 on GoodReads.
You can read Faleena’s full letter via her website here.
However, Suzan Tisdale doesn’t see this as the reason why the romance world has turned against Faleena Hopkins. Instead, in her Facebook video response to Faleena’s open letter, Tisdale suggests it is because she trademarked a singular word without a font identifier as the main reason people are angry.
While Faleena has written an open letter to her former self, it appears that she is not open to speaking publicly to others about the situation. Tisdale has said she has reached out repeatedly, via different social media mediums, in order to speak to Faleena. Other authors have also claimed Faleena has not responded to their messages on social media. Which means, this single letter is all that authors have in response to their anger over the trademark issue until court proceedings start on June 1.