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Author Trademarks the Word “Cocky” and Romance Twitter Comes Through

Carolina Ciucci


Carolina Ciucci is a teacher, writer and reviewer based in the south of Argentina. She hoards books like they’re going out of style. In case of emergency, you can summon her by talking about Ireland, fictional witches, and the Brontë family. Twitter: @carolinabeci

How many times have you seen the word “cocky” in a romance novel title? If you’re a regular reader of the genre, it’s probably safe to say dozens. But for some reason, author Faleena Hopkins has decided that the word has only been used in her titles, can only be used in her titles, and has therefore trademarked it.

I kid you not.

She does, in fact, have a trademark. Two of them, actually. One on the actual word, and one on the stylized font she uses on her covers. She registered them on May 1st, and has since been sending notifications to other romance authors to change their titles. Or else, I suppose.

Her justification for this is just as bizarre as the move itself. Apparently, it hurts her readers who can’t… learn her name?

In addition to this, she has also left at least one 1-star rating on another author’s novel… because their character names coincided. This, despite denying having her readers do similarly in a recent facebook post.

Needless to say, Romancelandia Twitter is not having it. In the last 24 hours, hashtags have been born:

Cover-offs were fought:

And an organized effort to buy ALL THE COCKY NAMED BOOKS unfolded:

Hopkins responded on Facebook, claiming that she was victim to a “witch-hunt” and that her demand of title changes hurts nobody. She seems highly ignorant of how publishing, especially indie publishing, works: it’s impossible to change a title without spending a lot of money on cover reshoots, backlog information and so on.

Whether this will hold up or not is yet to be seen. Trademark law in the US is complicated, but RWA is already looking into the issue.

However this plays out (and leaving aside the Iago-level pettiness of Hopkins’ move) there’s no question of its being absurd and short-sighted: she has now alienated nearly the entire romance community… which includes the readers she’s allegedly trying to protect.

But we’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll be over at Twitter watching this unfold, with bated breath and a vat of popcorn.