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News & Events
2018.08.17 Court Ruling Favors Authors Guild Over the Usage of “Cocky”
A decision was reached recently by the court of the Southern District of New York regarding the injunction of published materials that use the term “cocky” in their titles. Judge Alvin Hellerstein denied the plaintiff’s claim and handed down a victory to the Authors Guild (AG). Consequently, romance book authors are now able to freely use “cocky” in their works.

The problem began in April when the plaintiff and self-published author, Faleena Hopkins, obtained the trademark registration for her “Cocky” series. The term is frequently used in romance fictions. Hopkins sent a notification to other romance writers, demanding them to change any titles that contain the term “cocky.” Furthermore, she pressed Amazon to suspend the sales of romance books that included the word in their titles, leading to the temporary suspension of a substantial number of books.  

AG and Romance Writers of America (RWA) objected to Hopkins’ claim of trademark infringement, asking Amazon to resume the sales. Eventually, AG wrote a letter on behalf of Tara Crescent, author of another “Cocky” book series as well as the member of the Guild, and sent it to Hopkins. In response, she filed a lawsuit against three people including Crescent. 
Judge Hellerstein rejected Hopkins’ claim on the grounds that the word “cocky” is a common and weak trademark, that there was no evidence of actual confusion, and that the readers are not likely to confuse Hopkins’ and Crescent’s books.

It is rare for AG to litigate on behalf of individual writers, but since this case would have affected other writers in general, they decided to provide legal support for Crescent. AG believes that the “ownership” of a common word by a single author goes against the freedom of expression that is enshrined in the constitution. Regardless of whether the series name has been registered as a trademark or not, its scope of application has been clearly defined from this judgment. 

For more details, please visit the following websites:
 
https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/77157-judge-denies-author-attempt-to-trademark-cocky.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/04/romance-writers-cocky-faleena-hopkins

https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/authors-guild-rwa-prevail-court-defending-authors-cocky-trademark-dispute/