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Copyright and Trademark Questions

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Steerpike, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Yeah, I figured - and no worries. It's probably still information that's good to have, and maybe someone else will find it useful. :)
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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  3. I saw that. By a former IP litigator no less, but I think he was more patent than TM. But this situation is spiraling downward. RWA is involved and helping people. Amazon is booting series amdvreviews with the word cocky in it. She posted s two hour long diatribe explaining how she’s being attacked. It’s bad.
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    The diatribe, what little I saw of it, was embarrassing. The petition to cancel isn't great, but may be enough to get the job done. I got the feeling that maybe trademarks weren't a big area of focus for him.
     
  5. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    I feel bad for this author, who crazily, because this world is small, happens to be friends with an old high school pal of mine. So...I used to think quite highly of her and now am like...whoa. BUT...in fairness, she was trying to protect her brand. This situation is an important one to witness for many reasons and honestly, she just went about it the wrong way. Should we all be so smart to study what trademark truly is and I think there was a failure to do just that in this case. Someone at the trademark office didn't do their job effectively. The fact that the single word could be trademarked is ridiculous. However, it seems the RWA has stepped in and at least stopped this from going any further (taking down more books with the word on the title) until things get more resolved.
     
  6. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    There go my dreams of publishing 'Cocky Cowboy'. I think maybe Ill just make a Cocky Pirate instead.
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Single words are trademarked all the time--that's allowable under trademark law. In this case, though, the trademark examiner should have expanded the search beyond the realm of prior registered trademarks. More of the responsibility here falls on the shoulder of the author, though, both in the application process (one of the counts in the petition for cancellation alleges fraud on the patent and trademark office) and in the manner in which she attempted to enforce the registration.

    it brings up an interesting issue, though. If you have an ongoing series, there is benefit to having the name protected, even if it is a single word. For example, a war hammer is a commonly-known item, but the trademark warhammer (single word) applies to book series. I don't have a problem with a trademark applying to a book series, per se, however the enforcement should be limited to trademark usages and not titles of a single book (although I suspect if anyone wrote a one-off book called "Harry Potter and the Midnight Ghost" (or whatever) they'd have a big problem on their hands!)
     
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  8. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Yeah the series name trademarked makes much, much more sense. The piggyback reasons she gave are, well, questionable imo. I won't go into it any further than that, given there were books published prior to the trademark being granted with the word (or a version of it) on the title/cover. The word is a trope in romance, and what this could effectively do is jeopardize creativity and rob authors of their livelihood (in a bigger version of this). It just seems like more common sense could've been placed behind it all...you know??
     
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  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    She's also arguing she is doing it to protect her readers, which doesn't hold up well. Trademarks can serve a consumer protection function, but here you have the author's name right on the book. Not likely her fan will buy someone else's book by mistake.
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I only know a little about these laws from a B-Law course in college, but I'm very confused about the way she's attempting to apply this trademark.

    First, it seems like the word "cocky" is too widely in use to be a trademark in the romance genre. But aren't there also rules about the form in which the word has to be used to be trademarked? Steerpike mentioned Warhammer, so I'll use that example. But while Games Workshop owns the trademark for Warhammer, I'm pretty sure you could still title a book series, say, Light of the Warhammer, couldn't you? I guess my question is, common word or not, is it really possible for her use of the cocky trademark to be so broad?
     
  11. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I am not sure how I will feel about this if and when trademark becomes my issue, but I'd think I would favor the garage band approach. It don't hurt me to have people sharing things around, in the end I would hope it would have the effect of drawing in more interest. Or, as I sometimes say, I hope I create a product someday that others will want to make knockoff's of.

    In this case, trying to claim the word 'Cocky' in a romance genre....yeah, and I want a copyright on the word 'sword' for all the fantasy types.
     
  12. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    Branding should make it unquestionable who you are. That's the whole point of it. I didn't buy this one for a second.
     
  13. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Actually I don't have a problem with this woman trying to trademark the word "Cocky". I understand what she wants to do. It's what her attempt at trademarking does that's the issue. Trademarks exist to protect your products. She wants to stop other people from jumping on her bandwagon and using the term to suggest to readers that their books are part of the same creative world. But she goes far beyond that in suggesting that any use of the word "cocky" infringes on her rights.

    It's not impossible that someone here might write a book that uses the word in its title, but that said book has no relation to hers and the title does mean to suggest that it does. They should not be affected.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  14. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    True...and you're right in that the specific word in question being trademarked doesn't affect any of us on this site (highly doubt it but stranger things have happened).

    I do, however, have strong concerns over the fact that generic words can be trademarked to go on titles. For example, if the words 'bride' or 'mail-order bride' were to be trademarked, I'd be fucked as would other authors who write in the same genre/subgenre. What about fantasy type words like sword, dragon, lord, etc? Do you see the possible ramifications here?

    Perhaps it'll all blow over and we'll go back to the way things were. But just because this sort of thing doesn't affect you and your indie business personally doesn't mean it won't someday. I think the concern is justified and highly so.
     
  15. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi Chessie,

    Actually this has impacted me directly. "Alien" is trademarked. And I wrote a book I initially called "Alien". I changed it to Alien Visitor because of the trademark issue. Even though my book had no connection to the sci fi / horror films and books etc, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble. And in fairness the trademark cuts both ways. I wouldn't have wanted my book in any way to be connected to the Alien franchise - it's a completely different work. Who knows - maybe it might have got me a few more readers - but then they would have been pissed off when they read the book and found no alien monsters. I didn't need that.

    Cheers Greg.
     
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  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    E0C29825-5244-4D8B-AB46-192FEB2549E5.png Via Twitter:
     
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  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Trademarks function to protect consumers and to protect the source or goods and services. Part of the problem here is this likely isn’t a valid trademark to begin with.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I once had a music project named Blacklight. Sold a few CDs under that name. Then I got a letter from the lawyers for a record production company by the same name (I think they're still in business). They were nice enough to exchange a couple of emails with me ... at least once I was clear that I would change the name of my project.

    So, yeah, a word can be trademarked. Remember the Monster kerfluffle? It's all a matter of who can throw their lawyer the furthest.
     
  19. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    But the author's justifications in this case for having gotten the trademark in the first place are highly questionable. I mean, the word is a trope in romance that goes back for ages. How else to describe what those books are about? LOL There are books that predate her series years and years before she even came up with the idea. Sometimes we come up with the same ideas as other authors...but in this case she claims they were all copying her.

    For example, one of my book titles has the same name as the series title another author has on her books who writes in my niche. I contacted her about it (plus I had read her books and they were wonderful) and instead of accusing each other of theft we decided to work together to promote our work. This is how it's done in a small community.

    Lol I said I wouldn't comment on this issue again because it gets me heated but the tweets have pacified me for now. :D
     
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