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Cockalorum

Definition:

a boastful and self-important person; a strutting little fellow.

This silly little insult is brought to you today by Merriam-Webster, and by an author who writes under the name Faleena Hopkins.

Faleena, who certainly is cockalorum, has filed a trademark on her brand, which happens to be a stylized version of the word cocky. After that, which wasn’t an irrational or unreasonable thing to do, she lost her ever-lovin’ mind.

Not content with claiming the specific font choice identifier of her phallic-centric series (I assume, since it’s either that or it’s about boffing chickens), Faleena started reporting fellow authors to Amazon for copyright violations. Authors who, in some cases, had published years before her brand trademark was filed.

That isn’t how this works. That’s not how any of this works!

First of all, I am not a lawyer nor do I even pretend to have any notion of IP law. I do know some people I could ask, and may do so after this. But still, I’m pretty darn sure that a bawd which has been around since at least the Elizabethan era cannot be trademarked in toto (no, autocorrect, that’s a word, not the dog’s name. But it can’t be claimed exclusively there, either, even if Groucho did comment it was too dark to read inside a dog). She can, and evidently has, trademarked the specific form of the word: ie the stylized representative form by using that font choice. But any common word cannot be trademarked.

Getting away from the legality of this nonsense, I’m really hoping that she’s figured out this stunt is not good publicity. Because no-one can have been so dim as to have started this hoping for anything other than publicity, or possibly trying to force Amazon not to automatically assume copyright violation reports are valid. The majority of the improbably-named author’s readers are unlikely to know or care she’s being a gigantic cockalorum, but the community of authors won’t touch her with a ten-foot pole now.

Why does that matter? To Faleena, who thinks the way to succeed is to ambush and undermine her competition, it doesn’t. To someone like me, who would never have published without friends and mentors, it matters a lot. I enjoy helping my fellow authors reach a broader audience by linking to their books, blogs, and asking them for recipes to make. Which I then featured alongside one of their books. It’s my way of giving back. Heck, even when I have been attacked, have had my friends contacted to “shut Cedar up” and have been threatened with legal action for reporting someone’s words, I haven’t named and shamed. This? This is different. This is someone pulling a stupid stunt that could really harm other authors. Amazon pulls reported books off the ‘shelf’ as it were and that can break links, leading to long-term promotional problems.

Congratulations, cockalorum Faleena.You’re famous. Only… I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what you were aiming for.

Updated to add two things. One, I’m writing on my phone  because my computer and desk are at the new house but not set up yet. Sorry about the formatting.

Second, for a lot more details from an actual lawyer, read this. 

70 Comments
  1. Hang on–is she actually reporting people for copyright violations on the strength of her trademark? Is she not aware that trademarks and copyrights are entirely different things?

    May 5, 2018
  2. Ah yes. Sheer idiocy strikes again. May she sink to irrelevancy quickly.

    May 5, 2018
  3. Bizarre. A word I would never have considered using anyhow..

    May 5, 2018
    • Not for a book. A short story or novelette of humorous bent perhaps…

      I gave the summary to my two Aussies; their response was “Is she planning to sue all of Australia? We use ‘Cocky’ as a short for cockatoo.” and “What a dumbass.”

      May 5, 2018
  4. Oh, she’s using Faleena? Don’t we market a low-end “bathroom tissue” under that name?

    May 5, 2018
  5. Faleena who?

    May 5, 2018
  6. Reminds me of a game company that printed Nazi, with the TM mark, on their cardboard figures for their game.

    May 5, 2018
  7. This reminds me of those knobs who claimed to own the phrase “space marine”.

    As I recall, they not only didn’t win, but much pointing and laughing at their expense ensued.

    May 5, 2018
    • There are a lot of parallels.

      May 5, 2018
      • Except getting RWA involved. Although… I’m not certain who is tougher, RWA or a small platoon of mil-sci-fi writers. Not certain I’d want to find out, either.

        May 5, 2018
        • TRX #

          Like Stalin said, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

          May 5, 2018
        • Brett Baker #

          Well, us guys want prisoners to humiliate and sell. You gals just start killing.😉

          May 5, 2018
    • Draven #

      you mean the sellers of overpriced plastic miniatures?

      May 5, 2018
    • Games Workshop? Yeah, I remember that insanity; the person targeted was a friend on LJ (I consider is, though I’ve been out of touch, because I no longer use livejournal) and I pretty much refuse to buy anything related to their brand. Which is a bit of a shame because I’ve had a few folks recommend a sub-series of novels in the Warhammer 40k setting involving this commander who would like nothing better than to slack off in his distant planet-equivalent of Siberia, and keeps finding himself stuck in epic battles instead.

      (And I can never remember the name of the particular books/series to look for.)

      May 5, 2018
      • Interesting. I like mil sf, but found the Warhammer stuff pompous and turgid, much less enjoyable that the Slammers or RAH’s MI. Admittedly I have a very small sample size to opine on. Only a few pages of online excerpts and critiques.

        May 5, 2018
        • Draven #

          mostly because the lore is trying to shoehorn SF into a Fantasy setting

          May 5, 2018
          • Admittedly the line is easy to cross. Is Tony Stark in his armor tech or fantasy? Any sufficiently advanced tech is indistinguishable from magic, some sage once stated.

            May 5, 2018
            • Draven #

              not what i meant at all. they were trying to make Warhammer, but SF.

              May 5, 2018
              • You have lost me.

                May 5, 2018
                • Draven #

                  Warhammer is a fantasy combat miniatures game. Warhammer 40K is the sci-fi version of the setting.

                  May 5, 2018
        • BobtheRegisterredFool #

          She’s talking about Ciaphas Cain, which is a fairly different feel from a lot of the other stuff, apparently. I think the guy who wrote them has another book out or going to be out from Baen under a different name.

          May 5, 2018
          • I got the impression that worldbuilding might require more exposition to make sense of events than I was willing to undertake.

            May 5, 2018
          • Yep, that guy. Skimming the description on TVTropes, I didn’t completely misremember it:

            Sent to progressively more insanely dangerous warzones as his reputation grows, Cain actually wants nothing more than to find a quiet place to hide from the fighting.

            It still sounds entertaining, but … GW.

            May 6, 2018
            • GW?

              May 6, 2018
              • Robin Munn #

                GW = Games Workshop. Their business practices have left a HUGE bad taste in fans’ mouths, to the point where many people (like me) have essentially sworn off buying anything they put out. They have a couple of board games I’d really enjoy, and some quite good video games based on their Warhammer 40K setting… but nope, I refuse to give GW any money based on how abominably they’ve behaved in the past.

                (Though the Ciaphas Cain book series is good enough that it might — MIGHT — become my sole exception.)

                May 6, 2018
        • I wasn’t am still not into any of that stuff – miniatures was a hobby far too expensive for me to get into, and I have enough of those.

          Those stories were the only thing I was interested in getting (I was told I could read them fairly stand alone, and enjoy them) then the crap about the Space Marines came up and that killed any chance of my directly supporting the authors of those stories, ever.

          May 6, 2018
          • Robin Munn #

            The Ciaphas Cain books are good enough (I read a friend’s copy) that I might just make an exception there. OTOH, I might also just look up Sandy Mitchell’s site or blog, find out if he has a Paypal tip jar, and toss him an amount greater than what he’d make from royalties if I bought the books. That way the guy who deserves the money gets it, and the company that screwed over its fans doesn’t get a dime. If he asked someone to do that, he’d probably be in violation of his publishing contract. But I didn’t sign that contract; if I decide to throw him some cash in his tip jar so that he gets some money from the books I borrowed & read, I’m not in violation of anything whatsoever.

            May 6, 2018
      • Back when I was into Warhammer a friend of mine that I played with recommended the “Gaunt’s Ghost” series of novels. Would that be what you were thinking of? Might pick up some of the early ones just to check them out.

        May 5, 2018
        • Thanks to TVTropes, typing ‘Warhammer 40k novels’ resulted in dragging up the name that twigged my memory: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/CiaphasCain

          That subseries.

          May 6, 2018
        • Skimming a little, the way I remembered the summary of the story may have been a bit off. heh, sorry about that. ^^;

          May 6, 2018
        • BobtheRegisterredFool #

          Gaunt’s Ghosts is a different series in the setting, and has a very different feel. Little easy to confuse because both are Imperial Guard Commissars. Think NKVD barrier troops assigned as political officers, but like many other things in WH40K over the top to comedic levels. ‘For in the grim darkness of the far future there can be only war.’

          Cain is a Flashman-esque comedy. The conceit is that they are his secret memoirs, where he confesses to the cowardice whose unexpected outcomes unjustly gave him a heroic reputation. One of his contemporaries acquired them and makes editorial remarks about how she believes he was mistaken.

          Gaunt is not really a comedy. Gaunt is both a political officer and line officer, and commands a unit raised on a planet just before the planet was destroyed. Imperial Guard are fairly expendable troops, and are deployed for fairly long periods. I saw a fanfic of the series that posited that the natural end was the last man of that planet being killed in action.

          May 6, 2018
  8. The linked attorney points out: “(In fact, I found what is arguably a series of books using the mark to identify a series, which makes the registration itself sort of iffy, but that’s a separate issue.) ”

    Author should have heeded the sage advice, “Don’t get cocky.”

    May 5, 2018
  9. Christopher M. Chupik #

    That’s it. I’m copywriting the word “the” and charging 1 cent per use.

    May 5, 2018
    • Lol! Good luck with that…

      May 5, 2018
    • Randy Wilde #

      Can I copyright the word “copyright” so I get money any time someone tells me I can’t?

      May 5, 2018
    • My lawyer will be in touch with your lawyer. I am trademarking the word “and.”

      May 6, 2018
  10. RWA is aware of the situation and is asking authors this attorney and/or author contact to let them know. Trust me, they will not sit back and let this go unless the author has very solid legal ground backing her.

    May 5, 2018
    • I’m waiting to see what Passive Guy has to say about it. I’m sure there will be choice words.

      May 5, 2018
      • “And now Passive Guy stands up to the plate – he swings – and sends it out of the park!”

        Actually, he just noted the “prior use” doctrine – and Ms. Faleena is hosed. August 15, 2015, nearly a full year before the first of her books were published – “Cocky Bastard.”

        I am truly hoping that someone hammers her hard. Attempting to usurp a trademark leads to treble damages under US law. (Authors of such – have you considered a GoFundMe? Also talk about trying for a combined action – that can reduce your own costs tremendously.)

        May 6, 2018
  11. This reminds me of when Games Workshop decided that because its Space Marine products were trademarked, that meant no one else could have the phrase Space Marines in their book titles. And, yes, Amazon did pull down books because of it.

    May 5, 2018
  12. Uncle Lar #

    In comments to the lawyer’s article someone mentioned that they had heard this author had reported writers to Amazon for copyright violations. I could almost hear him salivating in his response. You see, that would not only be a violation of Amazon’s Terms Of Service, but were Amazon to actually pull books from offer a real loss of business to the victimized writer.

    May 5, 2018
  13. Uncle Lar #

    I actually took a look at one of this author’s books.
    Faleena Hopkins – [Cocker Brothers of Atlanta 01] – Cocky Roomie
    Typical romance soft core porn with a major gay component.
    She seems rather prolific and I most certainly have no objection to her writing whatever she damn well pleases, but her ignorant abuse of what she seems to think copyright means needs to be squashed like an annoying bug. Sorry, but one does not promote oneself by damaging the business of fellow authors, not even in a genre as cutthroat as romance.
    And no, I did not purchase that book, just borrowed it. Now excuse me while I scrub up and disinfect my eyeballs.

    May 5, 2018
  14. Christopher M. Chupik #

    “(I assume, since it’s either that or it’s about boffing chickens)”

    The Rooster is a Rogue: He was the cock of the walk — until he met the hen he couldn’t tame!

    May 5, 2018
    • Glittery Hoo-Haa!

      May 5, 2018
    • Christopher, that’s FUNNY.

      May 5, 2018
      • Christopher M. Chupik #

        The result of reading the cover blurbs of about a million romance novels while working at the bookstore and later the library.

        May 5, 2018
    • I am sooooo glad I finished my drink before I read that, Christopher.

      May 5, 2018
    • PLEASE WRITE IT I WILL BUY THAT OH I WOULD

      May 5, 2018
    • It may sound like a promising idea – but it might just lay an egg.

      May 6, 2018
    • We had a chicken, no eggs would she lay…

      (I once found a tolerably complete version of that song that had a verse I’d NEVER heard that started off with “We had a rooster, no love would she give…” and ended with “He’s laying hens now, just like he used-tah…”)

      May 7, 2018
      • “would HE give.” The rooster was not trans.

        May 7, 2018
  15. I want to copy-write the word “it.” I’ll make MILLIONS!!!

    May 5, 2018
    • Dorothy Grant #

      Don’t you mean “It’ll make millions!” 😛

      May 5, 2018
      • I think he had a typo. What he meant to write was “I want to copyright the word ‘I.’ I’ll make millions.” The extraneous t is confusing…

        May 5, 2018
    • The Knights of Ni will thank you.

      May 6, 2018
  16. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Think I could get a patent for racist fiction and start charging everyone for licensure?

    May 5, 2018
  17. Aaaaannnnnd, per comments at PG’s place, the individual failed to get commercial use permission for the font she trademarked. Oops. The font designer is reportedly looking into the matter.

    Time to get the popcorn cart!

    May 6, 2018
    • Oh my word, this just gets more and more, um, dramatic. (For values of)

      May 6, 2018
      • Typically it takes longer for karma to pay attention. This is going to be good. 🙂

        May 6, 2018
    • Paul Cordes #

      And Hubris beget Nemesis.

      May 6, 2018
    • Latemarch #

      And Hubris begets Nemesis.

      May 6, 2018
      • Christopher M. Chupik #

        And Nemesis begat Siege.

        May 6, 2018
        • Now Penguin-Random House’s lawyers are apparently also interested.

          To quote the Grail Knight, “[She] chose… poorly.”

          May 6, 2018
          • Prolly doesn’t have deep enough pockets to interest some real scorched earth type “pick ’em clean and eat the bones” type ambulance chasers.

            May 6, 2018
        • Draven #

          o.o we’re reading the ‘begats’ again? sheesh i kinda think Numbers is dull.

          May 6, 2018
  18. Zsuzsa #

    Okay, after thinking it over for a night, I’m left with one glaring question: what can she possibly hope to gain by all this? It seems that her best case scenario is that she bullies a bunch of midlist indie writers, they’re too intimidated to fight back, and they change their titles. And…? I fail to see how this is likely to get her a single additional sale, especially given the damage she’s doing to her reputation. Worst case scenario, of course, is that she runs into someone willing to fight back, and then things get really, really ugly.

    I assume that it’s got to be some combination of three things:

    (a) She genuinely believes that she’s losing sales because potential readers of hers find another book with the word “cocky” in the title and buy that when they really mean to buy her book. Because apparently her readers aren’t bright enough to look at author or series information.

    (b) She genuinely believes that she’s losing sales because potential readers of hers read another book with the word “cocky” in the title and are so turned off by the horrible writing in that book that they vow never to read another “cocky” book in their lives. Again, not speaking well of their intelligence or ability to gather basic information about a book.

    (c) She genuinely believes that she owns the word “cocky” and that she’s legally entitled to “all the monies [these other authors] have earned on [books with “cocky” in the title], plus lawyer fees.” In which case she’s getting really, really bad legal advice.

    May 6, 2018

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