It’s established U.S. law that someone can trademark a specific logo and that portions of that logo, if distinctive in design, are also considered trademarked. Someone could create a store called “New Navy”, for example, but if they used the same logo design as Old Navy, they’d be in for a lawsuit. Commonly used words by themselves can’t be trademarked, though.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
Enter Romance writer Faleena Hopkins, who tried to trademark the word “Cocky” for use in the titles of her book series. Under normal circumstances, she might have been granted the trademark in the font style used for her books. Probably not, because it’s not an unusual or unique font, but she might have been had it granted.
Instead, the government granted her the trademark as per her request… just the word itself.
Faleena now owns the rights to the word “Cocky” when used in a book title, any book title, even those which predate her work. She’s also sending out cease and desist letters to the publishers of those books. (Techdirt)
Or at least that’s what she claims. What she actually has is, in fact, a “wordmark”, specific to only that particular font. What’s worse, she doesn’t own the rights to that font… and the owner of those rights specifically restricts others from using it to generate a trademark or wordmark. (Goodereader)
That controversey isn’t enough for Faleena. After using stock photos for her book covers, she has claimed that her use of the stock photo has given her inherent rights to those images (they are now connected to her art, after all) and therefore anyone else who uses those stock photos is a potential lawsuit target.
Faleena’s… unique. And the Romance Writers of America are getting members who have had books and stories using “Cocky” in the title (romance writers love suggestive puns) to join a lawsuit to break Faleena’s trademark. This current situation might not stand, but for now, anyone considering using the word “Cocky” in a title is forewarned.
You might have to deal with Faleena.
So, for an OPEN THREAD question to the night owls out there… have you ever been stopped from doing something completely reasonable by a regulation, rule or threat, implied or stated?