Author Branding The Wrong Way

I took this off any of my automatic-share settings, because I’m really not one of the people affected, and I’m just running a little commentary off to the side. There are plenty of other people in the thick of it.

I’ve been watching a writer’s career explode–the drama of the day on Twitter. She’s been watching too, but somehow, it seems she hasn’t noticed that she’s the one on fire.

She’s not someone I’d heard of before the last couple of days. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never read one of her books, so there’s no statement about the quality of the work here. Just the… OMG! behavior.

She registered a trademark with a fairly common (in Romance anyway) word involved, and then proceeded to send copyright violation notices to anyone who used that word in the title of their book. (Not just as trademarked.)

Apparently, quite a lot of copyright notices.

And then, writers who may not have the resources to hire their own lawyers got on social media. (I came across this on Twitter.)

Long story short… the RWA has gotten involved. (And I’m embedding this information in case one of you needs to get in contact with them.)

And the guy who designed the font got involved.

So… trademarks. **sigh**

They don’t exist so you can call dibs on a word in the English language. In fact, if your trademark becomes the word in “common use” for a product, you lose your trademark. That’s why writers’ magazines have ads begging you not to say “Kleenex” without mentioning it’s a brand of facial tissue. Just ask the folks behind Aspirin.(or heroin.)

There are long and detailed posts about this, and if you want to go all the way, you can become a lawyer (or hire one).

From a social perspective, I think the moral of the story is be nice, or some other thing your mother started telling you when you were two.

That probably would have avoided a lot of pain and suffering on the part of a lot of people.

The other aspect of this that’s worth thinking about is where we find the point of no return. At what point did she go a step too far? All of this seems to have happened in the last four days. Would it have been possible–somewhere along the line–to apologize, and stop the momentum? To apologize and salvage something?

Take a look at the story, and tell me where you stop thinking that it’s an innocent misunderstanding of the scope of trademarks and move on to… other explanations.


  1. Reply

    Wow. Guess is shows what happens when you ACT without a little research which would have revealed the info about word use and trademarks. Wonder how much reading she does about the business of her craft? I was aware of that from just reading here and there about the business and craft of writing, although would probably have looked it up to see and verify and solidified what I thought I knew.

    Yeah I know my sentence is all funky in wording hope it makes sense.

    • Reply

      Makes perfect sense to me. It’s amazing what you can pick up, if you care enough to get started!

  2. Reply

    Wow. I’ve seen (TM) around my whole life but never really understood the specifics of it. Since I don’t understand it and I know I don’t, I just try not to mention any brands at all, ever, in my books. Just describe whatever it is, haha. Time to consult Dr Google before I do something so dumb myself!

    • Reply

      Somehow I can’t imagine you doing anything so heartless, with or without additional research. But I’d definitely want to know I had a chance of keeping a trademark before I spent all the time and money registering it.

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