I don't normally weigh in on controversial topics but the news unfolding on Facebook over the last few days has been disturbing, to say the least.
If you've missed the drama, a certain author (I don't want to give her name or offer her any more publicity than she has already generated) has put a trademark on the word "cocky" so others can't use it in their book titles. She's demanding that anyone who has used it in a title change it immediately - even if it was published before her own book - or face a courtly cost battle. Apparently it's all in the name of "protecting her brand" or some rubbish. I think she's already laid waste to her own brand with the negative backlash that has inevitably arisen.
It's hard to know where to start with this. I think it's the arbitrary nature of it that scares me. It's not like this is a special word she's made up that's unique to her story - in which case I could see where she's coming from. This is a normal, common word that's in the Oxford English Dictionary. Anyone could have been affected by this, it just happened to be this word, this nutjob.
But as one of my friends on Facebook has pointed out, it's the response to it all that's been heartening. People have been rallying round to support each other, share each others' books (check out the hashtag #thisishowyouindie), and generally showing the way an author is actually supposed to behave. Humour has also been used in the face of an entirely baffling situation, with mocked-up book covers appearing using the word "cocky" in bizarre contexts.
I just hope this doesn't set a dangerous precedent. One of the most frightening aspects is that she seems to have Amazon on her side. Is it too much to ask that common sense and decency will prevail? What do you think of Cockygate?