Words Are Powerful

The last week in Romanceland has been rife with controversy. I kinda got caught up with it emotionally because I knew people in both camps, and as a result, I’ve fallen behind on my word count.

Like, really behind.

I had originally thought about not writing about it but at the same time, I thought, why don’t I want to write about it? It’s important, isn’t it?

Well, maybe not to the regular person it’s not, so this may not be of interest to you as a casual reader. But for an author like me who writes in the field of romance, the implications are pretty huge.

You see, a fellow romance author trademarked the word “cocky.” She writes a series that started out as the Cocker Brothers of Georgia (or Atlanta, I can’t remember now…), about seven brothers with the last name Cocker. And so each book in her series starts with the word Cocky. Cocky Roomie, Cocky Heart Surgeon, Cocky Cowboy... you get the drift.

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Can’t touch this…

So with 17 or 18 books now in her series, I guess she figured besides trademarking Cocker Brothers of Atlanta (or Georgia), she might as well trademark Cocky because, well, it’s her “brand” now.

She applied for the trademark in September 2017 and was granted the mark last month. Then she started sending C&D letters to other authors who had Cocky on their titles or series, mostly released after she published the first Cocky book (Cocky Roomie). She told them to change their titles and series names or she’d sue them for monies owed to her. She told them she would win. She told them retitling would take a day, nothing more.

Cue #cockygate.

The backlash? HUGE.

Her response? “Branding.”

Amazon’s response to her trademark infringement claim? Removing the “infringing” authors books along with a note stating that they may owe the cocky author monies earned.

Other people’s response? Meh? Who cares? Just a bunch of women fighting with each other. One misogynist dared “spiteful jealous mean girls” who had a problem with it to suck his cocky.

Words were exchanged. Emotions got heated. Parody cocky books popped up and are selling like hotcakes…

I mean, things escalated quickly.

But the precedent set over the trademarking of a single word that is a huge part of romance? Dangerous.

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It was exhausting.

But now it’s back to work.

I need to write more words. Maybe I’ll even throw cocky in there just to be sentimental about #cockygate and the weekend when I should have been writing.

***Romance Writers of America (RWA) has stepped in to stop the take-down of affected books and the rest (petition to cancel the trademark, maybe) will be handled legally. 

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