Why “outing” someone makes you an utter arse – #1

In the ongoing trademark wars, it seems there’s a new drama every day.

In court last week, the lawyer for trademark troll Faleena Hopkins attempted to have the real names of authors under attack made public. From what I understand, this is an ongoing dispute.

Here is one reason why it’s so awful to take away an author’s anonymity:

Schooled by Deena Bright

In 2012, erotic fiction author Deena Bright was “outed”. Her real name was not only revealed to her employer, but she was dragged through America’s national news because of the genre she wrote.

Bright (that’s not her real name) was suspended from her job as a high school teacher because of this, and subjected to public humiliation for no good reason.

Hopkins would like to do this to other authors who she sees as competition. Already, she is forcing them into the courtroom to shut down their careers (good God, her me and nobody else attitude is such a reflection of the Trump era!).

Authors use pennames for a million and a half different reasons, which I’m sure I don’t need to explain here. Add in the misogynistic stigma attached to the romance genre, and the issues surrounding the use of real names double or triple – or quadruple.

That this is an inherently petty and nasty thing to try to do to someone is obvious.

Dragging innocent names into public view to “punish” people for doing nothing wrong can seriously damage an author’s life. Especially so if she’s a woman. And especially so if she writes romance or erotica.

A Cocky Weekend

The book world had quite the start to the weekend, with the #cockygate trademark drama making it to court on Friday afternoon New York time (Saturday morning here).

E L James Fifty Shades Cockygate Cocktales Trademark

Even E L Fifty Shades James stood up for the authors by promoting the Cocktales anthology that has been released in support of Faleena Hopkins’ victims and of Romance Writers of America.

RWA stepped up for the authors under attack, providing the legal assistance they needed.

Faleena Hopkins, the author who started this mess to begin with, didn’t turn up in the courtroom and so missed seeing her lawyer try to argue – with the help of giant poster versions of her books – that her oh-so generic topless guy covers and oh-so generic titles were unique enough to warrant both trademarking AND her taking out restraining orders against her rivals.

Disgustingly, she is also trying to have the other authors’ real names (rather than their pennames) revealed.

Court documents from Friday afternoon are floating around the internet, and make for pretty hilarious reading. The poor judge!

Cockygate court document.

Cockygate court document.1


Cocktales: the Cocky Collective

cocky-final-2 Cocktales the cocky collective cockygate cover

In response to the #cockygate trademark drama, a number of authors banded together and – in a very short space of time – have produced and published a book. It was released this week, and immediately hit the USA Today bestseller list!

YES!! USA Today bestseller, baby! Success is the best revenge. #Cockygate

10% of the profits are going to help those authors dragged into the legal dramas of Faleena Hopkins’ creating, and the other 90% are going to Romance Writers of America’s Advocacy Fund. The book is only for sale between the 26th of May and the 26th of August.

You can read a little more about it HERE and HERE.

More Trademark Drama

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos Canberra Australia Winter Afternoon Sonya Heaney Oksana 7th July 2017

The #cockygate trademark drama – started by an author obtaining a trademark to the word “cocky” and threatening authors with legal action – has taken an even more serious turn over the past few days. The author in question, Faleena Hopkins, has now filed legal proceedings against some of the authors and others caught up in the drama she created.

We might not be able to do much to help, but we can buy the authors’ books to show some support (the authors being attacked, not Hopkins!).

This is appalling from start to finish. Honestly, what is going through Ms Hopkins’ mind?

Keep up to date on the cockygate hashtag on Twitter.

Now “Forever”?

The trademark wars continue, with another author attempting to steal another word out from under everyone in publishing.

While the trademarking of the word “cocky” did set a dangerous precedent, the trademarking of the word “forever” seems even more worrying, and certainly more restricting. However, that’s exactly what seems to be happening as I type.

Despite what every article under the sun said, cocky is hardly a common word in book titles. Forever, on the other hand…

I’m not sure what has Heidi McLaughlin convinced she owns the word, but surely most people associate forever with a certain hit from Judy Blume in 1975, not any recent romances!

Judy Blume Forever 1975 Young Adult Romance Vintage