Cockygate defeated: judge finds "Cocky" trademark for romance titles unenforceable
Andrei Mincov's commentary on the original article
The decision is correct in that COCKY was a weak trademark. USPTO should never have allowed it to register for a "series of books in the field of romance." No wonder, there is now a petition before USPTO to have the trademark canceled for, among other things, being generic and descriptive. What is WRONG in the court's decision is the reference to the idea that "authors should be able to express themselves in their choice of titles," somehow suggesting that author's freedom to express themselves would always trump trademark rights of others. The decision goes on to clarify that "a single word commonly used in book titles cannot be owned by one author." What about GOOSEBUMPS, a trademarked series that sold over 350 million copies? Or DIVERGENT? Don't even get me started on titles made of TWO common words... STAR WARS, DARK TOWER, CHICKEN SOUP, LEFT BEHIND, and the list goes on and on and on. The real reason the cases against defendants should have been dismissed is NOT that "authors should be able to express themselves in their choice of titles" or that one-word titles are inherently weak. The real reason the cases against defendants should have been dismissed - even if we assume that the COCKY trademark survives cancellation proceedings & is that defendants were not using the word COCKY as a trademark. Where there is no use, there is no infringement. Just like it's not an infringement of the GOOSEBUMPS trademark to simply say that some other book sends goosebumps down your spine - unless you somehow imply that your book is part of the famous series.