Apparently a small storm’s brewed in the US over an author who, according to the Guardian, trademarked the word ‘cocky’ and has approached other authors to remove it from their book titles.
According to the OED the word means ‘conceited or confident in a bold and cheeky way’, though I can think of a few other meanings (check out next Wednesday’s ‘Obscure English Word’ post). It’s intriguing. You can’t copyright book titles, legally they are ‘short slogans’ that can’t be covered by intellectual property law. But clearly there’s nothing to stop anybody trademarking anything. Including, it seems, a word in a book title.
Problem is, as Kiwi NYT best-selling novelist (and former lawyer) Nalini Singh remarked on Twitter, what happens if other words are trademarked? It’s not a good precedent. I see there’s already a petition requesting cancellation of the ‘cocky’ trademark, plus talk of possible legal action.
My take? I think it’ll blow over and there’ll be a legal precedent set that prevents ordinary words being trademarked. And that’s where my plan comes in. I’m going to trademark letters. Specifically, ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, and ‘o’. I won’t trademark ‘u’, I don’t like that letter. But I like the others.
What’s more, and here’s the cunning part of the plan, I’ll get users to pay me a monthly fee for each trademarked letter. I’m thinking a cent a vowel. And it’s not as if the income’s going to help me make ends meet. Sure, if the Worldometer is to be believed, over 935,000 books have been published so far in 2018 as I write this, which probably means I’ll net squillions. But – but that won’t go far. I don’t know what other people might do if they got a lot of money suddenly, but for me there’s the world’s entire turnip supply. I’ll need all the license fees I can get off those four vowels to afford to buy it, I suspect.
I mean, who’s going to complain? It’s not like I want ALL of the vowels in English, or that I’m being cocky about it…
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018