Updated: #cockygate Part 2: #Cocky Author Files Lawsuit (includes link to full summary)

Posted May 30, 2018 by Holly in Discussions, News | 12 Comments

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Update June 1, 2018: Thanks to Euna Park for the updates she was able to post on the court hearing this morning in NYC. The judge denied FH the temporary restraining order she requested for the publishing of books with the word “cocky” in the title and removed Kevin Kneupper from the lawsuit. Kevin being removed from the lawsuit has no bearing on his trademark case. That is separate.

FH’s lawyer is really claiming that the word “cocky” is synonomous with FH in the romance genre. Wow. Considering nobody knew who she was before all of this came to light, that’s overstating the shit out of things. I mean, sure, NOW that might be true but not in the way I think her lawyer meant.

Author Liv Morris also attended the hearing and had this to say about the Cocktales: The Cocky Collective:

This is more great news for Team Romance. I’m super glad to see that Cocktales will be able to continue to sell books. I really love how supportive our community has been over this whole thing. It makes me so glad to be apart of such an awesome community.

Here is a list of links that Courtney Milan provided that includes all, or well, most documents pertaining to the lawsuit:

Defendants Joint Memo in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction & TRO
Tara Crescent Affidavit
Crescent Exhibit D
Crescent Exhibit G
Declaration for Jennifer Watson
Declaration for Penny Reid
Plaintiff (FH) Reply to Memorandum of Law in further support of Plainitffs Motion
Full Transcript of Preliminary Hearing on June 1, 2018

Here are some other posts that went up in the last couple of days:

Authors Guild and RWA Prevail in Court Defending Authors in “Cocky” Trademark Dispute
Judge Denies Injunction Request in Cocky Trademark Dispute
RWA’s Update on Recent Trademark Proceedings
The Cocky Trademark Author Writes an Open Letter to Herself in Response to Cockygate
How an Author Trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out

Marc Whipple has a great running commentary on the entire #cockygate on his blog so be sure to check that out too.

Posted on May 30, 2018: Rowena and I have been on vacation so while we’ve been keeping up with the latest nonsense with #cockygate, we haven’t had a chance to update until now.

For a full summary of #cockygate, check out our post here —–> Romance Author Trademarks Word, Starts #Cockygate: A Summary

The TL;DR version: Author Faleena Hopkins claimed her readers were buying books by other authors because they had similar titles/series names, so she trademarked the word “Cocky”, both as a word mark and in stylized form, then started sending C&D’s to authors with Cocky in their titles and/or series. When the romance community because understandably upset about this, she doubled down and started claiming she was being cyber-bullied. Retired attorney turned SciFi author Kevin Kneupper filed a petition to cancel the mark, which is pending.

So what’s new since our last update? Oh, nothing much. Just Faleena Hopkins went ahead and filed a lawsuit against Author Tara Crescent, Publicist Jennifer Watson and Kevin Kneupper.

On May 25, 2018, Kevin Kneupper Tweeted the legal threat he received from Hopkins’ attorney:

Hopkins filed against Kneupper to get his Petition to Cancel her trademark blocked.

Hopkins filed against Crescent for infringing on her trademark by publishing Her Cocky Doctors (The Cocky Series Book 1) and Her Cocky Firefighters (The Cocky Series Book 2).

Upon HOPKINS further review, it was apparent that CRESCENT was purposely and intentionally, in an effort to increase her book sales, using HOPKINS’ reputation and previous use of her Federally Registered Trademarks in commerce as a means of association her novels with HOPKINS.

Hopkins filed against Watson because she has “participated and organized the publication and distribution of Cocktales”.

About the Cocktales Anthology:

‘Cocktales’ is a limited-release anthology (available *only* from May 26 – August 26, 2018) of original, never before published material, some of which is raw and unedited. Each story was specifically written for this anthology.

The goal of the Cocktales Anthology is to raise funds to fight against obstruction of creative expression. Specifically, what we believe are obstruction attempts through the trademarking of common (single) words for titular use in books / or as a book series (eBooks, print, and audio).

*ALL* net profits will be donated to:

1) Authors already impacted by creative-obstruction (10%), and
2) Romance Writers of America (RWA) (90%) as a general donation intended for their Advocacy Fund.

Disclaimer: This anthology is not being conducted on behalf of RWA, nor does RWA endorse this anthology or effort. They have, however, graciously agreed to accept the funds.

PLAINTIFFS request that this court order the Defendants CRESCENT and WATSON, to be enjoined and restrained from publishing, promoting, selling, distributing any works which infringe upon the PLAINTIFFS’ trademarks, including but not limited to the “Cocktales, The Cockiest Anthology” (hereinafter “Cocktales”), or any publications which include the Federally Registered Trademarks, or any similar variations thereof meant to confuse the public.

Here are links to the documents Kevin Kneupper posted:

Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law

Order to Show Cause
Complaint (includes all Exhibits from Plaintiff’s Memorandum.
Affidavit of Support


She claims in her Affidavit of Support that her sales were impacted…

As further set forth in HOPKINS’ Affidavit, various social media campaigns have resulted in a significant decline in her novel sales, as well as corresponding loss of income, significant and permanent damage to her reputation, as well as emotional distress.

…yet she claims in this video (see the full hour and forty-two plus minute video here) her sales have not been impacted.


A couple things I took note of:

1) As Kneupper notes in his tweet above, part of her argument is Romance Novel Readers are basically idiots.

Romance Novel Series Consumers Do Not Exercise a High Degree of Care

Unsophisticated consumers aggravate the likelihood of confusion, Hasbro, supra.

This is especially true when the competing products’ marks are similar, and the products are in competitive proximity, ID.

In this matter, it is respectfully submitted that books are often impulse purchases based upon a publication’s cover or title. Bare-chested muscular males and extremely attractive females traverses across the covers of many romance novels. The PLAINTIFFS’ Marks distinguish those common elements with a word and a style which is unique and permits her novels to be identified as written by her. Moreover, there is no particular consumer sophistication attached to likely purchasers of the books at issue, which are geared to a wide segment of the American public.

I can’t say for sure how Hopkins and/or her attorney meant for this to be taken, but it reads to me like they think all romance readers are ignorant hicks who can’t read or purchase novels based on anything but bare-chested covers.

2) Hopkins claims to be a well-known and best-selling author, but no one has heard of her.

Hopkins is a well-known and best-selling author of a series of romance novels, who self-publishes her work for sale to the public across the United States and the world, via internet sales through sites like Amazon.com.
Hopkins has, over the course of many years, established a significant reputation in the genre of romance.

Considering I, nor anyone else in my sphere of the romance community, has never heard of her, I find this to be a somewhat erroneous statement. I’m not saying I know every single author who writes romance novels, but as a well-established review site that has been operating for over ten years in this community, with numerous contacts in the Indie and Traditional Pub worlds, I find it hard to believe she was “well-known”, prior to this disaster, when I’ve never heard her name, nor has any of my contacts.

3) Hopkins is a “Book Stuffer”.



So basically she said her books were short, listed them in a smaller category, then included a bunch of “bonus” content which means she ultimately made more money and “sold” more books. She cheated the system, which is against Amazon’s policy. Which could explain how she’s “well-known” and a “best-seller” when none of us have heard of her.

#ByeFaleena continues to burn those bridges, don’t you think? How can any reader or fan of hers continue to support her when it’s laid out in public records just what she thinks of readers of romance and readers of her books in particular. We’re known to be a lot of things but unsophisticated consumers aka dumb clods? That’s a new one.

See below for more information about Cocktales.

Updated: #cockygate Part 2: #Cocky Author Files Lawsuit (includes link to full summary)Cocktales by Penny Reid, Nana Malone, Dylan Allen, Jana Aston, Whitney Barbetti, Sawyer Bennett, K.F. Breene, Ruth Clampett, L.H. Cosway, Amy Daws, Mariah Dietz, B.B. Easton, Jaymin Eve, Emma Hart, Staci Hart, Jessica Hawkins, Julie Johnson, Karpov Kinrade, Adriana Locke, Lex Martin, Aly Martinez, Kayti McGee, Corinne Michaels, Liv Morris, Red Phoenix, Daisy Prescott, Jessica Prince, Meghan Quinn, C.D. Reiss, Julie A. Richman, Aleatha Romig, Kennedy Ryan, Kylie Scott, Sierra Simone, Tara Sivec, Kate Stewart, Leia Stone, Karla Sorensen, Rachel Van Dyken, April White
Published by Smartypants Romance
Publication Date: May 26, 2018
Pages: 998
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

About the Cocktales Anthology:Cocktales is a limited-release anthology (available *only* from May 26 – August 26, 2018) of original, never before published material, some of which is raw and unedited. Each story was specifically written for this anthology.

The goal of the Cocktales Anthology is to raise funds to fight against obstruction of creative expression. Specifically, what we believe are obstruction attempts through the trademarking of common (single) words for titicular use in books / or as a book series (eBooks, print, and audio).

*ALL* net profits will be donated to:1) Authors already impacted by creative-obstruction (10%), and2) Romance Writers of America (RWA) (90%) as a general donation intended for their Advocacy Fund.

Disclaimer: This anthology is not being conducted on behalf of RWA, nor does RWA endorse this anthology or effort. They have, however, graciously agreed to accept the funds.


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12 responses to “Updated: #cockygate Part 2: #Cocky Author Files Lawsuit (includes link to full summary)

  1. Willa

    Oh look – finally a cocky book I am happy to support!

    And will someone hand FH a shovel – she must be getting real tired of digging this hole for herself with her hands! 😀

  2. Kim

    I wonder if Set Sail Studios will hear anything about their Cease & Desist Letter or if they’ll have to sue over their font.

      • Kim

        After he announced he sent the C&D letter on Twitter, there were a lot of people asking him to contact RWA for help in a possible lawsuit and others telling him to start a Go Fund Me campaign. He hasn’t said if he’ll reconsider and take these steps.

  3. Julie

    I really feel sorry for the books I should have been reading while I was down the FH rabbit hole. It’s very hard not to watch her path of self-destruction.

  4. Tracy

    From The Fussy Librarian link – Judge denies injunction request in “cocky” trademark dispute:
    Hopkins had claimed in her original court filing that readers of romance authors were not sophisticated, tended to make impulse purchases, and were being confused by other books with “cocky” in the title.

    WTF? Does this woman actually think she’ll sell books after this fiasco? She obviously thinks so well of her readers. Not. She makes my head hurt.

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