Of trademarks and others

I became interested in the whole “cocky” fiasco as soon as I became aware of it. I followed the hashtag to the fast-moving Twitter thread #cockygate and have kept track of the whole mess mostly through that hashtag.

As a writer I am alarmed on many levels. That this, and other words, which are in common use, could be trademarked was appalling. That the subsequent trademarks would then be used as a cudgel against other authors was dismaying. We are all in this together, or so I thought.

Maybe I have been isolated. I’ve been a member of Romance Writers of America for over a decade but only joined Los Angeles Romance Authors a few years ago. I am currently the President of LARA and so have witnessed first hand the help and support we in LARA bring to each other. We encourage authors when they get good OR (perhaps more importantly) bad news in the form of rejections or other news that levels our pride as well as celebrating book releases and contest wins. Other local chapters, such as the San Diego chapter as well as the Orange County one, have been equally as positive. We are a community and are all there to support each other. A rising tide floats all boats and all of that.

To see such a debacle play out in almost real time shook me to the core. I am not generally a fan of the arrogant hero but I didn’t make the mistake of thinking that this one trademark was an isolated incident. Just because I don’t read “cocky” heroes doesn’t mean that the situation wouldn’t have an impact on me. Sure enough within a few days a whole slew of other trademark applications for mostly common words or phrases hit the news, some that would affect me. This incident cuts across all writers, not just those writing about haughty heroes.

I know what I am going to do. I’m supporting the writers and others who are trying to fix this mess. I bought Cocktales and Kevin Kneupper’s works and will continue to support those like them. The other thing I feel I have to do, besides filing protestations of the too-common trademarks, is to not support those writers filing the broad trademarks. This includes writers whose work I like but who I can no longer justify keeping on my “to read” list while they are trying to limit my freedoms to write how I choose. I am not trying to copy or emulate anyone, I am simply writing my books. I hope that if we can get past this madness and settle things down that everyone will go back to doing that. I do not mind when people trademark distinct and unique phrases that are tied specifically to their creation. I do mind when they are filing for common words found in many series and trying to limit others—and why? Despite court filings to the contrary, readers are generally a smart bunch. They know the difference between my name and other writers. I know I do.

I hope that this is over soon as we can all get back to the business of writing and entertaining. Isn’t that really what we are here for?

Claire Davon

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