This isn't totally related to comics. . . but we have a lot of authors in the group, and this potentially might spill over into the comic industry.
What this journal is about, is #cockygate. There are dozens of twitter posts, blog entries, and even youtube videos discussing this, but I'll do a brief summary.
Essentially, this is about trademarking common usage words. In this instance, an author named Faleena Hopkins trademarked the word 'Cocky' so that no other romance author could use it in the title of their books.
This was a real issue because . . . well . . . the only reason Faleena was using it was because the term was extremely popular in romance novels. She was not even close to the first person to use the word, nor was her series even known by it, it was a recent rebrand she had decided on and was upset at anyone else who dared use the word. When other authors told her to calm down, they had every right to use the word, she went and purchased a trademark for it.
She also sent Cease and Desist letters out to authors who used Cocky in their titles, many of whom had published before her trademark even came into effect. That is how the story broke. An author received the C&D and was shocked, so she posted on twitter about it, asking for help and advice. It snowballed from there, including a few lawsuits, hate pages, and the Romance Writers Association being involved, and rumors the big 3 publishers were involved.
Faleena insisted she wasn't asking for much, and it would take authors just one day to change their titles, and they would not lose any reviews or money. This despite the fact that, in her own novel Cocky Soldier she writes a forward about how she realizes it should be Cocky Marine, but she already had the cover out and to change it now would ruin all her marketing, ads, and promotional material . . . and this was before the book was even published. So, she is asking every romance writer who uses Cocky in their title to potentially have to pay for a new cover or at least a revision, throw out and replace all their business cards, bookmarks, banners, flyers, and everything else they have have with the title on it because their books are already published and many were out for several months, make worthless every bit of marketing they had already done, make their reviews look confusing as many would still include the original name, throw away all physical copies of the books AND get them back from any/every bookstore that was stocking them and pay to replace those with the new titled versions . . . when she herself wasn't willing to do any of that before her book was even published.
That's the incredibly short version. Seriously. . . it can take several days if not a full week or more to go through everything. Google her name and/or Cockygate or Cocky Trademark and you'll be flooded.
A few of us fought back, donating money to the legal fund, purchasing the books by the authors directly affected, and even writing a few anthologies for the purpose of spreading awareness. (The one I am in is called "As Cocky as They Come" and will be for sale soon.)
As of now, someone is trying to trademark the term Dragon Slayer. This is when we start noticing it isn't just romance writers, this is going to have an impact on every writer.
Thus, it was time to speak out about it. Also, I wanted to share a link to CockyBot
"Who or what is CockyBot?
I'm a twitter bot that searches the USPTO for new applications to register trademarks that may be relevant to fiction authors and then tweets about them. Find out more about me (including some code for build-your-own-bot types) at CockyBot.con
Keep in mind, this means that any cover that has any of these words or phrases could potentially end with the author(s) being sued. Even if they are just part of a larger title, or act as a subtitle.
Words currently being trademarked now that I found troubling:
King of Dinosaurs
The Road to Bethlehem
Because Every Woman Has a Story
True Crime Detectives
Descendants of Atlantis
Choose Your Own Adventure
Work is Hell
School is Hell
And the list goes on and on. This means someone with the title "Dragon Tamer" can be sued. "Infinite Worlds" could be sued. This crosses multiple genres and are all terms that have been used previous to this trademark.
I can understand an author trademarking their name, or a unique, original title/series title. "Tales of Wydria" being trademarked would be fine, for instance. . . but when it comes to common usage words, common phrases, things that have been used by others already and simply are not original . . . this is wrong.
So please! If you are a writer, go through the CockyBot page and make sure that your titles are safe!
That is fucking ridiculous.
I'm not terribly surprised: I know the BBC copy-righted the words K-9 and Cyberman, among other words. Star Bucks has copy-righted coffee words (I'm not remembering which ones), and I've heard of people owning the rights to certain shades of color (like a particular pigment).
Makes me think how Marvel and DC have that joint trademark on "super hero" and "super-hero" (possibly even "superhero", but I've seen conflicting evidence on that--yes, spacing or hyphenation matter), which is freaking ridiculous. Also, remember that guy that had trademarked the word "Edge" and started suing any video game maker that used it in a title (and causing Soul Edge to be Soul Blade in the US, and then they got around it by just calling the rest of the series Soul Calibur)?
I didn't even know about this...thank you for sharing! Also, trademarks are freaking expensive...for these (obviously well off) people (because if they're going to trademark a phrase like "Dragon Tamer", I refuse to call them an "author") to be so conceited to trademark common words is just disgusting.
How can you even trademark a word wtf ?
I heard about this through one of my writer friends who is working to become published. I actually forgot about it until now. Honestly, that is the dumbest freaking thing I have heard. Like, common words shouldn't be trademarked. Unless it is a name you made up it should be free for everyone. It is the dumbest and most selfish thing I have heard an author do.