Updated: #Cocky Romance Author Trademarks word, Starts #cockygate: A Summary

Posted May 7, 2018 by Holly in News | 61 Comments

Update May 16, 2018: Kevin Kneupper received Notice of Institution in the “cocky” trademark challenge.

Which basically means the challenge has been filed.

In other related news, the website cockyandproud.com popped up recently, claiming to support 3 of the authors Hopkins targeted. Dusk Peterson on Twitter questions the legitimacy of the site, especially since they’re using affiliate links to make money, which they claim will be donated into gofundme (or similar ventures).

Notice from cockyandproud.com

Apparently three of the authors say they have no affiliation with the site. If you want to support them, buy their books on Amazon.

I hate to say it, but people can be assholes. Please make sure you aren’t getting taken advantage of

The crazy video Hopkins posted is up at Vimeo if you want to watch it. I’m not sure what to tell you about it. You’re welcome? I’m sorry? Good luck?

More links:

Vox.com: How an author trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out
Slate.com: Who Owns Cocky?

Update May 11, 2018: I had very limited access to the internet the past couple days, so I’m a little behind in updating this post. Faleena Hopkins deleted her Facebook account, along with the 1:42:00 video we linked to below. It may crop up again, but if you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss anything. I promise. The video is back up at YouTube. I embedded it below. The video is down again. You can read Jenny Trout’s live-tweeting of it for a summary.

Amazon responded to RWA’s request that no further titles be removed while this matter is being resolved. They agreed.

Prior to that, authors and readers noticed reviews featuring the word “Cocky” were being removed from both Amazon and Goodreads. I haven’t seen anything from Amazon or Goodreads direct about that, but reviewer Lillie tested the system by posting two reviews – one with the word “Cocky” and one without. The review with cocky was held for 13 hours, while the one without posted immediately. Oddly enough, she noted the review with cocky went live right about the time Amazon announced it would honor RWA’s request. If I were a suspicious person….

In better news, retired lawyer turned author Kevin Kneupper – who took it upon himself to file a petition to cancel the trademark – reports two attorneys a top NY law firm have agreed to work on the legal challenge pro-bono to help make sure it succeeds.

Amidst the #cockygate scandal, another Trademark concern popped up when Rebellion Publishing requested a mark for Rebellion. Obviously there are concerns with yet another overly broad mark being issued. Thankfully, unlike Hopkins who just keeps doubling down, Jason Kingsley reports he instructed the agency that applied for his over-broad mark to modify it to protect his brand, while not causing concerns with authors who use Rebellion in the title.

Thank you, Jason Kingsley! You, sir, are a gentleman! Faleena Hopkins could take something from that, I think.

Speaking of gentlemen…Turns out Leonard Greene isn’t much of one. His op-ed on the #cockygate “Copyright War” (as he calls it) in the New York Daily News makes light of what is a truly important subject. I could go on a long rant, but Kirha on Twitter has already done it for me.

We know Romance is a marginalized genre as whole, but how short-sighted does a person have to be to not realize this could affect everyone in publishing?

Update May 8, 3:50 p.m.: Horrible Writing asked Kevin Kneupper to discuss what the TM means. He does an excellent job explaining why this could effect book publishing as a whole, along with giving a brief summary of the situation.

Update May 8, 2018: Yesterday, author Tara Crescent’s books, The Cocky Doctors (The Cocky Series, Book 1) and The Cocky Firefighter (The Cocky series, Book 2) were taken down by Amazon. Although Kevin Kneupper filed a challenge yesterday, it could be weeks until the USPTO responds, and up to 18 months before the matter is resolved. If Amazon doesn’t release Crescent’s books, I don’t know what that will mean for her writing career. At this point she can’t even re-title them, since Amazon has them locked. From what I’ve seen Crescent say, she wasn’t even given the option to re-title. Faleena Hopkins reported her directly to Amazon rather than send her a C&D direct.

RWA announced they’ve contacted Amazon and asked no further action be taken while the TM is being contested.

Surprisingly, Amazon reacted pretty quickly to RWA’s request because Tara Crescent’s books are back up for sale. If you guys are interested in checking them out, click on the book covers below and it will take you directly to Amazon.

Guys, Faleena Hopkins has lost her damn mind. Check out this 1 hour and 42 minute video she posted today.

It also appears that she finally has people in her corner because her father is in on the crazy action too. I guess he’s defending her honor by trolling romance readers and authors on Twitter. I would link to his Twitter account but…nah.

Posted May 7, 2018: Y’all. It has been a week. In the 10+ years since Rowena and I started this site – and the 5ish years we were part of the community before that – I’ve seen some crazy stuff. But an indie author trademarking a common use word, then sending take down notices to authors who used it in their titles? Just might take the cake.

I can make a bunch of jokes (and really, really want to), but to be honest, this is a serious issue. If this isn’t reversed, the precedence this sets could have far-reaching consequences. Let me start at the beginning.

On May 1, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, or PTO for short), issued a word/mark for the word Cocky, in stylized form to Hop Hop Productions, Inc..

Shortly thereafter, indie romance author Faleena Hopkins started sending Cease and Desist notes to authors who used Cocky in the title of their books.

Jamila Jasper was one of the first. She, and others, chose to change the titles of their books rather than face costly litigation.

Here’s the text of that letter:

Hi Jamilla,

My name is Faleena Hopkins, author of Cocker Brothers, The Cocky Series,

The Federal Trademark Commission has granted me the official registered trademark of the word/mark “Cocky”, no matter the font.

Trademark Registration number: 5447836

I am writing to you out of professional respect so that you may rename your book “Cocky Cowboy” which shares the same title as my book, and republish all of the versions (ebook, paperback, and Audible) on Amazon to keep your ratings and money earned.

My attorney at Morris Yom Entertainment Law has advised me that if I sue you I will win all the monies you have earned on this title, plus lawyer fees will be paid by you as well.

I will do that – but I would rather give you the option.

I have had this series established since June 16, 2016 and I take all of the hard work I put into establishing it very seriously.

Your hard work I also take seriously.

You have the opportunity to adjust, rename, and republish before taking further action. You can do so on Amazon without losing reviews.

Thank you,

Faleena Hopkins

Faleena’s reason for TM’ing Cocky? She claims her readers lost money buying books they thought were part of her series…

As I’m sure you can imagine, the Romance Community exploded when this first came to light. We have concerns. At first it seemed like she had claim to the word Cocky, but another author came forward to say she, too, was contacted by Faleena Hopkins more than a month ago, and claims the mark only covers Cocky in stylized form for use in a series, or, to be more clear, the Cocky logo Hopkins uses on her covers.

For the record, I’ve read conflicting things and I’m still not sure which is correct. Does she own the rights to the word Cocky, as she claims, or only the image?

Image of Cocky in stylized form From the USPTO

Faleena’s responses have been…less than exciting. She started out smug and ridiculous, then started playing the martyr.

Of course as this story was developing, we learned more about Faleena Hopkins. Like, how she claims re-titling isn’t a big deal and only takes a day, but she refused to do so after she realized she published a book about a Marine but called it Cocky Solider (a big no-no, for those who aren’t aware. You never call a Marine a Solider, it’s an insult to them):

So it should come as no surprise she doesn’t even have the rights to the font she used to TM the stylized version of Cocky.

Even her fans are getting fed up with her:

Retired Attorney Kevin Kneupper decided to take this on himself.

He filed the challenge this morning.

Here are some links to help if you want more information:

RWA is collecting info to talk to an IP attorney as well. If you’ve been contacted by Faleena Hopkins and ordered to change your title, please contact Carol Ritter (carol.ritter@rwa.org). Please note, at this time RWA is only collecting info. At the time of this writing, they have not yet contacted an attorney or filed anything.

If you want to support Jamila Jasper, the newly titled book is available for purchase on Amazon:

Now a PSA:

In this Twitter thread author Courtney Milan started looking at the Trademark Gazette (where notices for upcoming TM’s are published) in case there are any potentially awkward ones. She found several, including Baba Yaga.

Are you as appalled as we are? This feels like a publicity stunt gone wrong to me. Though reading through Hopkins’ blog, she seems a very – dare I say it – cocky arrogant individual. She has claims all over her blog that she’s personally changing the Indie Publishing industry and doing things no other has done before her. Like tanking her career with stunts like this?

Please note Book Binge will never promote or support anything by Faleena Hopkins. We don’t support authors who think they can get away with shitting on the authors and readers of our lovely community.

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61 responses to “Updated: #Cocky Romance Author Trademarks word, Starts #cockygate: A Summary

  1. Dev

    I read up on this whole debacle yesterday. I have to say, I’d never heard of Faleena Hopkins before then, but you can be sure I’ll never buy anything of hers – ever! I almost wanted to add her to an “Authors Behaving Badly” on my GoodReads, but I don’t want to tarnish by account with anything related to her. I really hope that the trademark gets reversed, but even so – I’ll never support any project she’s part of.

    • Dev

      She also has the balls to cry on her facebook page that she is the one being bullied! So, she antagonizes on her twitter, then cries on her facebook. I’m really not liking this girl.

    • Jac

      I also have never heard of her before this whole debacle. And I have to agree; I will never support her now. Truth be told, I would probably forget about her as an author before the end of the weekend. There are too many other authors out there whom I can spend my time on reading.

  2. JenM

    I heard about this over the weekend. Since there are usually at least 2 sides to every story, I was waiting for someone who has familiarity with trademark laws to defend the author but haven’t seen anything in her defense, so I have to assume that she is very much in the wrong. I’ve never bought (or read) any of her books, but do have a bunch of them that were free downloads. I’ve now gone ahead and deleted them from my Kindle archive. The archive is big enough already, the last thing I need in it are books from an author who is that arrogant and downright mean.

  3. denise

    The thing is, if she wanted to invoke it, why wouldn’t she have her attorney of record contact on her behalf instead of sending her snarky notices? I’m still shocked she was awarded the TM for a word in common vernacular. I also question her broad use of the “stylized TM.” I have a feeling she’s overreaching–not that I’m an attorney. This is something which will probably be easily revoked if/when challenged.

  4. Rita Wray

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Who the hell does she think she is? I have never heard of her and I wouldn’t read anything she writes ever.

  5. Jen

    WTAF. I was really busy this week (finals time!) and haven’t been reading my usual blogs and sites, but I kept seeing headlines about COCK and just figured Romancelandia was getting extra sassy this week, haha. But seriously this lady has gone bananas. And why would anyone be allowed to TM a regular, single word like that?

  6. Glenda

    There’s no way I could ever support a person who pulls a stunt like this. Aside from everything else, she says her readers were robbed by buying books with Cocky titles. I say they must not be real fans if they can’t remember her name and make sure she’s the author when buying a book.

  7. Cocky McCockCock

    Well, now I have read/seen it all. I do admit to chortling a bit at the sheer hypocrisy and arrogance on view here. Like many others I had never heard of this author and certainly won’t be reading/purchasing any of her wares.

    And someone who claims to have done her research and yet still calls a marine a soldier??? And then she says the cover was everywhere, the pre order was live and couldn’t be changed? ! Altogether now – it only takes a day!!!

    • Absolutely agree with you, McCockCock. It does take a day. And it did when a reader of mine pointed out my hypocrisy in a PM Sunday. The book is now live on Amazon, correct. And you’re right, she’s right, the world is right — I made a mistake. Fixed it. Oh, the power of human, adult communication. It’s what makes the world go ’round. And it’s way better than cyber-slaughter. How ’bout you just message me next time? For an honest time, call: 1-800-Cou-Rage

      • I would be more willing to forgive your “human” mistake had you, oh, I don’t know, fixed it when you realized there was a problem. Instead of claiming you didn’t realize – until a reader pointed it out – it was hypocritical of you. So, sorry. Not buying your “Oh, I made a mistake, I’m human” nonsense.

        It’s also pretty hard for me to see you as a victim here. Your gross disregard for other authors, your readers and other human beings in general sort of kills any sympathy your “cyber-slaughter” might engender.

      • Teresa Susan Fraser

        Should I remind you, Hopkins, that you robbed a copyrighted typo design? Because the designer of your “Cocky” typo style mentioned that HE DIDN’T GIVE YOU THE PERMISSION to trademark it. So, sweetpie, if I were you, I should be prepared to receive a C&D letter from its REAL owner.

      • Heather C. Leigh

        It’s so painfully obvious Faleena has ZERO clue how publishing works. LOTS of books have the same title. There are dozens named “Shatter”, tons named “Mirror Image”, and don’t even get me started on the number of books with “Mr. Right” in the title.
        Even my books are repeats of others, both before and after I published mine. “Incite”, “Relatively Famous”, and “Ricochet” to name a few.


        You can’t claim a title, or copyright it. You can ONLY ™ it if it is HUGE and authors are trying to fool others into thinking their book is part of your series. Like HARRY POTTER™. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Faleena, but your Cocker books are no where near that popular.
        Cocky is a trend. People use it. A lot. It has nothing to do with you, don’t flatter yourself. You aren’t the center of the universe, nor are you unique in your choice of titles.
        Get over your damn self and grow the eff up.

        • Did you see where she didn’t even change the name of the series to The Cocky Series on GR and Amz until AFTER the TM was filed? Prior to that it was The Cocker Brothers Series everywhere books are sold. Had she TM’d that, I would have understood. But Cocky? Really?

  8. Anita H.

    This is the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard! Her readers bought the wrong books because of the similar titles? Is she inferring her readers are dumb because they don’t check for her name before one-clicking? I can’t believe the nerve of her to go after indie authors and the fact that she actually got awarded a TM for such a common word is very baffling. What happens if someone wants to TM “love” or “sexy” or “hot”??? shaking head

  9. Yo – Faleena Hopkins here. Hi! Man, how you can twist a story when you have the desire to. As for my blatant hypocrisy with my Cocky Soldier book, one of my readers wrote to me privately and pointed this out. I agreed with her. Totally forgot about this instance and I was a hypocrite. The great thing about open, adult communication is you can take care of the problem and not enflame it into an assault like the diabolical one that’s going on. I retitled, republished, and will have to get new bookmarks made up. Should I start crying? Most of these authors were ranked in the 100ks, which means they sold 1 book a day. I’m glad I’ve been able to give them some publicity so they can make some cash. And everyone else, this blog included, happy to give you eyeballs since you probably worked hard to get here. But none of you really know the story. Having fun?

    • You keep saying no one knows the story, and we’re all ignoring your side of it. Tell us, what’s your side? What is it we all keep missing?

    • None of this is fun. What you’re doing is disgusting. You are interfering with the livelihood of authors who are JUST LIKE YOU. Not only that, you’re using the very readers that allow you this livelihood as an excuse to do so. What kind of person does that?

      Personally, I don’t care about your side of the story. By all means, keep it to yourself.

    • It is amazing that your friends, your family, or even your lawyer has not slapped the keyboard out of your hands by now. You just keep drowning yourself in bad decisions. There is no way that you can spin this to play the victim. There is no way that you can spin this to make yourself the martyr. There is absolutely no way that you can spin this to ever make me promote, purchase or support you as an author. What you did was disgusting and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can find another community to shit on because the romance community is done with you.

    • B.L Brunnemer

      Then please explain your side. All we’ve heard is that your readers have bought other books thinking they are yours, this is human error and happens all the time. That you are trying to build a brand, which we actually understand. JK Rowling trademarked Harry Potter. It was a smart move to protect herself, we get that. It’s the trademarking of a commonly used word, it’s that the word isn’t distinct enough to be ONLY associated with your books. Harry Potter is. It’s obvious who someone is referencing there. Not so with the word cocky.
      Also, the fact you keep demeaning other writers, pretty much saying they aren’t good enough to comment on your posts or even to discuss this? (this is what I’ve gathered from your post here.) That’s fucked up and makes you look bad. Not the writers commenting.
      And also:
      “An Amazon Author Rank will only appear for authors in the top 100 overall or in the top 100 in a browse category.”
      You don’t know these author’s ranks unless they are in the top 100, at least on Amazon. That’s not how it works. I suggest you stop, take some time, and actually look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective.

  10. Tracy

    This is seriously the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of! Who the hell does this author think she is? I hope to heavens that someone makes headway on getting this cancelled. Why would the USPTO ever let this happen in the first place? This is wrong on so many levels.

  11. LunarLunacy

    In before she deletes all the comments she made here as she is currently purging all of the snarky comments she’s made on social media in an attempt to seem more like a victim. Bye Feleena. Screenshots last forever.

      • I definitely think Jenny Trout should get one for watching the whole video. A case of liquor, perhaps? Or maybe brain-bleach would be a better gift?

        • Willa

          Just read that thread – boy, Jenny Trout has a rapier sharp tongue – I love it and want to be her when I grow up!

    • Glenda

      I very briefly considered watching the video…. Then I decided I didn’t want to give her FB anything a hit. She’d no doubt take it as a compliment. I’m betting she is patting herself on the back for all the “free” publicity. Do you have any idea how happy I am that I never paid for any of her books??

  12. It’s like a trainwreck and just when you think there’s nothing else for her to do or say to piss everyone off, she goes on an hour long rant that…pisses everyone off. Haha, and it’s only Tuesdays guys.

  13. This just keeps getting crazier and crazier (so glad I updated my newsletter subscription yesterday!! LOL When I closed the blog and that email, I forgot, I missed alot.! Sorry), and who knows where it will end?

    At least Amazon reacted quickly (low bar, but at least they are good with costumer service most times?) because it would have been really terrible for Ms. Crecent’s career.

    I kinda want to watch the video of her rant, but I don’t want to give her views. And I’ll definitely listen to the podcast! 🙂 Thanks for that link 😉

  14. We forgot to mention…the video linked here is a copy someone uploaded to YouTube. The original video was posted via Facebook Live and has since disappeared. If you want to watch, you won’t be giving her clicks.

  15. Just to clarify the confusion of the trademark. There is more than one. I found three registered by Faleena’s company when I did a few trademark searches back when this first broke on the 4th May and found these.

    “Cocker Brothers” – perfectly sensible TM to protect her series title.
    “Cocky” in a stylised font – would probably be okay if she had the right to TM the font.
    “Cocky” in any font. The one that is causing most of the trouble.

    You can search for free here http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4809:j9u7t6.1.1 and see for yourself what each of the TMs covers.

    • Oh wow, I didn’t know that there were 3 TM’s, I only knew of the first two listed and it was the third that pisses me off.

      Thanks for the link!

      • You’re welcome. I have the site bookmarked so that I can quickly look up owners of trademarks for any I use in my own books.

        When this story broke I went to look them up to check it was even true. After all, we can’t believe everything we hear online and this was something that could be damaging to the career of the author if it was nothing but a rumour. I like to fact check as much as I can before I voice my opinion.

        I checked the Cocker Brothers as well as a few other variations of the series title I had seen mentioned. This was the only one I could find though.

  16. Oubliette

    The video’s been taken down. Can someone upload it again or post it where it can’t be taken down? PLEASE?

  17. Michelle F.

    Crazy! Never heard of her before. That’s a lot of trouble she went to in order to protect her books. What about other genres of books? How about The Cocky Murderer? Just made that one up. I guess cocky shows up more in romance titles.

    If people accidentally buy the wrong book, they can try to return it or just be more careful next time. Imagine if people tried to copyright titles. A lot of books, movies, or songs have the same title.

  18. Jen

    She just will not back down, eh? And now she’s leaving nasty comments on blogs that criticize her? What the hell? This whole situation is so strange. It seems likely that she’ll lose any legal cases in the end, but will this spur other people to file baseless trademark applications that then require lengthy legal wrangling? Ugh, what a selfish, short-sighted thing she did.

  19. A top NY law firm has agreed to help out pro-bono with the petition to cancel. I updated our post with links for those interested.

      • In best “M” voice: “When someone says “We’ve got people everywhere”, you expect it to be hyperbole! Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression. It doesn’t mean that they’ve got somebody working for them inside the bloody room!”

  20. Great informative post you have here!!! Definitely clears things up with the whole Fiasco that this author started. Like honestly…she CANT OWN a word….she really has no right to do this. It would be like a fantasy writer controlling the word “Dragon or Sword”. It just is so unreal. Good for the RWA though for defending those authors. And I can’t believe that not only is she suing other authors, but she is also disciminating against those that don’t happen to AGREE with what she is doing.

    • Hey you, good to see you around. How’s the project coming along?

      FH tried it…she’s getting so much blowback on it that I wonder if she truly gets it now. I don’t think so but who knows?

  21. Lia Johnston

    AFFECT, for heaven’s sake. This could AFFECT us all. It can have an EFFECT on publishing. Please use the right word!

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