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Romance Author Trademarks ‘Cocky’

June 8, 2018

(image via wikimedia)

Most literary lawsuits are boring, but this one has the word cocky and it involves romance novels, so it has the potential to be interesting.  In this case, an indie author got the trademark for the word cocky for her Cocky Brother series ( more details here ) but now has requested an injunction to keep other authors from using cocky in their own romance titles.

I’m not a lawyer.  When a federal judge or the Supreme Court makes a ruling that puzzles me, I don’t automatically call the judges stupid.  I understand that I have giant gaps in my knowledge.  I’m not sure I’m even explaining this current situation correctly.  At any rate, the judge in the cocky case has denied the injunction, but the case itself is still being heard.  For now, any romance author can use the word cocky in a book title.  But beware!!!!

I’m not including the author’s name because you can find it in the article I linked and I don’t want to reward her bad behavior by using her name.  Even if she trademarked cocky and has some legal recourse, it’s a dick move for her to litigate the word cocky.  Most authors don’t make much money from writing, and lawsuits can get expensive.  The trademark might be nice if it holds up, but suing over cocky (even if she has a legal point) is worse than breaking the trademark by using the word cocky in a title.

The cocky writer seems like a relatively successful self-published author, and that’s a tough business.  There are already 19 Cocky Brother novels out there, and their star rating on Amazon seems pretty high, though the books have received a bunch of one-stars in the last few weeks, probably because of the litigation.  I guess that’s one way to show your disapproval of an author’s legal maneuvers.  I’m not a fan of one-starring a book that isn’t one star, unless maybe it’s a James Patterson novel.  Maybe this cocky author has a point and the rest of us are too ignorant to know it.  I’d hate to one-star a book out of spite because of a lawsuit and then find out later the hated author was right.

A lot of writers are mad at this author, and I understand why, but I have to give her credit because she created an interesting news story.  Most book news is boring.  JK Rowling tweets something, Stephen King tweets something, James Patterson publishes something, and some book wins an award.  Yeah, authors are getting accused of sexual harassment now, and that’s interesting, but it’s not fun to write about because that stuff is serious.  But the word cockyCocky is a funny word.  I’ll write about cocky whenever I get the chance.

Decades ago, a coach trademarked the word three-peat when his team was on the verge of winning three consecutive NBA championships.  That was a dick move too, but three-peat was at least a new word, and if the coach hadn’t done it, somebody else would have.  That coach just beat somebody else to the dick move.  If this cocky author hadn’t trademarked cocky, I’m not sure anybody else would have.  Cocky has been around for generations and (as far as I know), nobody had trademarked it before.

You have to be careful who’s around you when you say the word cocky.  A lot of people don’t know what cocky means, and they might think you’re being vulgar.  I’ll say it anyway, despite the possible misunderstandings.  It’s not my fault other people don’t know what cocky means.  If I don’t say cocky, a bunch of people might forever be ignorant of its true meaning.  Therefore, I have a responsibility to use the word cocky correctly.  Refusing to do so dumbs down the public.  So for now, I’ll use the word cocky whenever I get the chance.  But I might not put it in any of my book titles.

  1. Anonymous permalink

    I have a son who used the word pussy (referring to a cat) in an English paper in high school. I had to go down to school and talk to the teacher regarding the use of the word for a cat. My son still got a bad grade but that was the only school ramification. He did get a bit of a ‘talking to’ by his dad and me.

  2. it is interesting to know that romance words can be copyright. I am really surprised by it. it is a strange post!

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