This has been blowing up on the Webs over the weekend, and I'm surprised it hasn't yet come up here. So there's this writer who goes by the name Faleena Hopkins, and she's pulled a fast one with the US trademark office. Three or four days ago she got the word "cocky" trademarked for her soft-porn romance book series, both in a stylized, font-specific version and in plain text. Since then she's been emailing cease and desist letters to other indie authors who use the word in their titles--- just their titles, not in series names--- threatening that if they don't eliminate "cocky" from those titles, she'll sue and win "all their monies" earned for those works. Passive Guy tells all about it here, and you can follow the links to see what all is going on. Counter suits have already begun, and the predominant IP lawyer opinion around the cybersphere is that the trademark office screwed up and Ms. Hopkins hasn't got a leg to stand on. The problem is, she's already reaming other authors by reporting them to Amazon for copyright (not trademark!) infringement, and Amazon, in its typical crude, bot-minded way, has reflexively taken those authors' books down. Many others on blogs, Twitter, etc., have done a thorough job of hoping Ms. Faleena gets her comeuppance, saying so in very pungent terms. Like them, I'm alarmed at the idea of anyone being granted a common word as a trademark without specific limits to how and when and where it applies. What I'm not hearing is much reflection on Amazon's role and responsibility in this. Yes, they're big. Yes, they're a private company. Yes, we authors are suppliers and not customers. But at what point will they have to answer for acting like blind fate and rolling over authors' rights and livelihoods? What good does it do their business to allow themselves to be used as a truncheon like this? Ideas? Reactions? All I can say is, this is a good argument for going wide.