Posted on 06/01/2018 at 12:27 PM by Jeffrey Bruner

A federal judge denied on Friday a romance author's request for a temporary restraining order to halt publication of several books using the word "cocky" in the title.

Faleena Hopkins applied for a trademark for a "series of romance novels" containing the word "cocky" and sued after fellow author Tara Crescent refused to retitle her books. Crescent has at least two books with "cocky" in the title.

Hopkins also sued author Kevin Kneupper, who has challenged Hopkins' trademark application, and Jennifer Watson, a book marketer who helped promote "Cocktales," an anthology intended to raise money for authors involved in trademark disputes.

The anthology reached the Top 20 on Amazon's Kindle ebook bestseller list and has made the USA Today bestseller list. "Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James tweeted out a link to the anthology to her 1.3 million followers on Friday.

Also on Friday, Judge Alvin Hellerstein removed Kneupper from the lawsuit.

Euna Park, who attended the hearing, said: "The judge asked what the difference was between 'cocky cagefighter' and 'cocky roommate.' Also added that the trademark was weak at best. Other weak things include plaintiffs evidence to prove confusion or 'sophistication' of purchase."

Hopkins had claimed in her original court filing that readers of romance authors were not sophisticated, tended to make impulse purchases, and were being confused by other books with "cocky" in the title.

Friday's ruling does not have any impact on Kneupper's challenge of Hopkins' trademark application. That process can often take 12 to 18 months to be resolved.

Kneupper said he was pleased to be dismissed from the federal lawsuit.

"Lawsuits take a long time but from what I've seen posted I'm hopeful the trademark will go away," he said. "I know many authors have been worried about these trademark suits. But I hope everyone knows after this that if you are targeted by a troll, you will NOT be fighting alone!"

The Authors Guild this afternoon posted: "The Authors Guild seldom litigates on behalf of individual authors, but this is an important issue for authors generally. Authors should be able to express themselves in their choice of titles. A single word commonly used in book titles cannot be 'owned' by one author. This is especially true when, as here, the word has already been in use by other authors in titles for years."

The next hearing in the case was set for Sept. 14.

We hope to have a transcript of today's court hearing posted early this evening.

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EARLIER

While we're waiting for court to adjourn, trademark and intellectual property lawyer Marc Whipple has examined the defendants' reply and come to a few conclusions:

  • Book publicist Jennifer Watson probably won't be part of this lawsuit for long. "Suing her for trademark infringement was a terrible mistake in my opinion."

  • "Defendants’ counsel makes the very sound argument, in my opinion, that this is not about who owns the trademark, which is usually the case when requests similar to those of plaintiff’s are made of the court, but whether there is a trademark. There is a registration, but that does not mean there is a trademark."

  • Hopkins is going to regret sending cease and desist letters herself and not through a lawyer, as well as making some videos about her decision to sue. "There is a direct conflict between what she asserted then and what she is asserting now."

Categories: Today in Books

Tagged As: Cocky-gate, Lawsuit, Romance