Elizabeth: The Ghost in the Machine

I may not Tweet or follow anyone on Twitter but, thanks to my Facebook feed, I often see odds and ends from the Twitter-sphere that catch my attention and provide fodder for blog posts.

Back in June there was #CockyGate, where an author registered and received a trademark on the word “cocky” and then went after other authors for using the word in their titles.  Months of outrage and lawsuits ensued before she eventually surrendered her trademark registrations and withdrew her lawsuit(s).  On the positive side, many people now know a lot more about copyright and trademark law than they used to, including the fun fact that a book’s title cannot be copyrighted.

Early this year the #CopyPasteCris plagiarism scandal reared its ugly head (as I posted about here).  In that case astute readers identified what appeared to be the blatant “recycling” of bits and pieces of other authors’ published stories.  The list of authors whose work was thought to have been plagiarized read like a Who’s Who of Romance – Courtney Milan Tessa Dare, Bella Andre, Loretta Chase, Victoria Alexander, Sarah MacLean, and Nora Roberts – just to name a few.  The author in question initially claimed innocence and then later blamed her ghost-writers.  She has since virtually disappeared, but the fallout and legal wrangling continues.  On the positive side, Nora Roberts is now on the warpath. Continue reading

Justine: Intellectual Property Questions – Follow-Up

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In case you missed it, the last time I blogged, I did a Q&A with Greg Ourada, an intellectual property attorney with Hill, Kertscher & Wharton, LLP in Atlanta, GA. He answered questions about copyright, trademark, registered trademarks, and several other related topics. You can view that post here.

A few commenters had follow-up questions and I have the answers.

Before we begin, though, a disclaimer: The responses below are general in nature and should not be considered legal advice.  Due to the highly fact-specific nature of copyright and trademark issues, you should contact an attorney if you require specific legal advice regarding a particular matter.

Now, your follow-up questions! Continue reading

Justine: Your Intellectual Property Questions Answered

copyrightWhat a week it’s been in the romance writing world! In case you missed it, there is a huge uproar over #cockygate, or the trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series.

Background: Faleena Hopkins, the author of several books that have the word “Cocky” in the title, recently received an official trademark of the word “cocky” in a romance series in both regular and stylized (meaning in a specific font) form from the US Trademark and Patent Office. You can view her filings here and here.

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Ms. Hopkins’ stylized trademark of the word “cocky.”

Ms. Hopkins has threatened other writers whose book titles also contain the word “cocky” with a lawsuit if they don’t change their titles. She’s also reported some authors to Amazon, telling the Zon that the authors were in violation of her copyright. Amazon took down the offending books at once. Romance Writers of America has hired an IP attorney and has asked Amazon to reinstate the take downs pending a legal challenge (Amazon agreed), and former IP attorney-turned-writer Kevin Kneupper has come out of retirement to Continue reading