A New York court has ruled against a bid by author Faleena Hopkins for an injunction to block other writers from using the word ‘cocky’ in the title of their books.
Hopkins had trademarked the word ‘cocky’ for use in the titles of romance novels after publishing a series of novels featuring the Cocker Brothers characters.
The move brought a massive backlash from other indie authors and The Authors Guild and the Romance Writers of America stepped in to take up the case and oppose the injunction.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein said “cocky” is a common word and a weak trademark. He said he considered romance readers to be ‘sophisticated purchasers’ who were unlikely to be confused between authors’ books. The judge denied Hopkins’ injunction and a restraining order to block books from using ‘cocky’ in the title.
The Authors Guild seldom litigates on behalf of individual authors but it believed this to be an important issue for authors generally. It says authors should be able to express themselves in their choice of titles and that a single word commonly used in book titles cannot be ‘owned’ by one author. It adds that this is especially true in this instance as the word ‘cocky’ has already been in use by other authors in titles for years.