Novelist | Filmmaker | Actress

Thursday, March 28, 2019

My Official Letter About #Cockygate: What Happened to Faleena Hopkins

It's been almost a year since the #cockygate chaos began, but something has happened in the publishing community that has recently been dragging my name in the mud. No bueno.

I often urge the women in my life to stand up for themselves since throughout history we'd been taught not to. Now I guess I've got to walk the talk. 

So here goes. 

Last year when I trademarked my series, a war began between me and a large number of members of the indie world. They called it #cockygate. For months I was attacked and called a whole bunch of things I'm not. It was a great time. (that's the ex-stand-up comic in me making jokes to handle the pain of it. You'll read more of those)

Here's the thing:

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I pretty much play by the rules. Live honestly. Do "what's right." 

Have I made mistakes? Yep. 

Have I learned from them? Yep. Well, except for that ex I texted recently.

Have I been kind? Yes. Most days. 

Have I been bitchy? Haven't we all, at one time or another?

Have I been strong? I've never been more strong than after surviving the weirdness that was "cockygate." 

So thank you for that, trolls. 

Almost a year later the buzz is back. Which is so odd. I thought the nonsense had died a final death. Wishful thinking. 

"What happened to Faleena Hopkins" is now a popular-search-phrase on Google because of recent articles some author-friends clued me into, about some unscrupulous character I've never heard of who plagiarized a ton of authors. The articles are saying "Remember cockygate?" as if trademarking my series has anything to do with that. 

I'm also not connected to the group of romance authors whose Amazon accounts were shut down around that time for book stuffing. My account is still up and healthy, thank you. 

Did they connect me to these people because my name, together with "cockygate" gets them more eyeballs on their story? Maybe. Who knows, but the connection is nonexistent, and seems a lot like reaching in the hopes that more people will look at their articles. 

Especially those who miss the views / likes / comments / tweets / sales that slandering my name last year gave them. I didn't watch any of the videos directed at me, but my friends told I'm not missing anything. 

So let me clear things up. Once and for all. 

Here's what happened to Faleena Hopkins:

I filed for and was granted ® -- a registered trademark by the Federal Trademark Commission, which is a normal business thing to do. 

In any other business. 

The movie industry has done it for big titles like Harry Potter, Twilight, etc. 

But I might have been the first self-published author to dive in and protect my brand after I sold half-a-million books in my series. I'm not positive, but from the reaction, it may have been a first for indies. Who knows. But people went ballistic, knowing little about what a trademark really means.

And you sure can attack an indie; people keep doing it all the time. 

But to me, using their influence to send readers after other authors for political reasons isn't a cool thing to do. 

If that's how they want to work, that's up to them. 

It's just not how I do things.



It was mistakenly and repeatedly shouted that I tried to steal a word from the dictionary and keep it for my very own. 

And that word happened to be "cocky" which made it that much worse. Especially since I'm a chick. We must always put ourselves down in order to be liked. Isn't that the way? 

But I wasn't saying I was cocky... I was referring to The Cocker Brothers, my fictional romance family whose nickname is The Cocky Brothers, and every book but one starts with the word "Cocky." Cocky Roomie, Cocky Biker, Cocky Cowboy and so on for 22 books now and counting. 

In the Cocker Brothers world, "Cocky" means owning who you are and not apologizing for it. This family is loyal as the day is long. As am I, so I trademarked them.


What the ® really meant is that people couldn't make covers that looked like mine. 

A trademark protects a brand. 
I didn't copyright a word. You can't. 
I trademarked a brand. 

So what does that mean? 

If authors used a bold, non-cursive font "cocky" - that was fine. Because it clearly wasn't my series. 

It bears repeating: 

People could still use "cocky" in titles; it just couldn't look like my books. Which is why when we settled the court case before I surrendered the trademark to stop the nonsense, that all Ms. T.C. was required to do was change her font to bold and differentiate her covers.

Debunking another misunderstanding: You can't get a registered trademark without proving a right to it, as was explained by the Trademark Commission's support team to authors who wrote to them last year about how I got mine. Their lengthy response was posted in message boards. In it, they explained many things that debunked much of what the mob was saying, including that there is no such thing as a trademark-troll. You cannot buy a trademark and sit on it to sell it. They are not patents.  

But people didn't want to hear what the FTC said. 

They also didn't want to listen to me. 

They wanted to yell at me. A lot. 

And get other people to yell at me. 

They were by this time, a mob. 

You cannot reason with a mob. 

If you're ever a target, don't try. 

Or if you do try, get in and get out. 

I had to shut down really bizarre accusations. I swooped in with the proof that it was nutso, and dashed back out. 

They grumbled, moved on and made up something else. So not fun. 

Some of it they really had to stretch for, like the ones who gave me grief for saying in old posts that I had adopted my rescue dog, Sophia. "She's shaming people who bought dogs at breeders!" #bizarro 

A few people to this day will say I was a bully for sending Cease-and-Desist letters to authors, even though that's what you do when you get a ®.

The reason they say it is because one of the authors posted my C&D letter to Twitter claiming she was intimidated by me. (There's a tiger, go poke it) And yes, my letter was bitchy. For that I apologize. I was nervous about confronting a savvy business woman with 4x the numbers of books I had. Nobody looked closer to see she had over 120 books published. I had 33 and you can't bully UP. The woman was a genius. 

But I don't blame readers for the painful nonsense that was flying around. It was a politically fueled battle and readers didn't know that. 

Our indie publishing world is so new that it sometimes operates like Lord of the Flies and for a horrible couple of months I was the li'l guy they wanted to kill. 

Thankfully, while it was at its ugliest and I was losing sleep, had a weird spot on my tongue and heart palpitations and an eye-twitch, something happened. 

I remembered some of the stuff I've been through in my life and realized that it all had passed. I'd watched my mother succumb to pancreatic cancer, and held her hand while she left. She was not just my mom but my best friend. I'd loved a musician who was addicted to cocaine and went through two years and three rehabs with him until I finally realized he didn't want to quit. I'd learned I can't have kids, and instead created a family of my own, in my books. 

Cockygate was powerless, compared to these. 

I'd survive. 

And that's when the twitch left my eye, my tongue cleared, and my heart beat normal again. I stopped paying attention to what they were saying about me and focused on being me again. 

We started filming Just One More Kiss, the dream project, a screenplay I'd written and had saved my writing income to fund myself so that if I f*cked it up, it wouldn't be on someone else's dime. It was completed while Cockygate was still in full swing. Months later, we just got "Best Actor" by the Aphrodite Film Awards, and we're grateful for being a finalist for "Best Feature Film." 

I realized from the mob-mentality - how quickly people jumped into the fire - that we human beings have a lot of pain inside of us lately. We are looking for a way to let it out. So I created a free video podcast where I'm having conversations with some exceptional human beings about how they overcome their personal demons to have their dream lives. It's been amazing to hear their stories. That launches in April. 

My readers are still with me, thank God and thank them. When it got really bad during #cockygate I marked our Facebook Group to "secret" and asked them for only one thing - that we wouldn't gossip or slander/shame any of the authors who were inciting the mob. This made us focus on better things. We started new hashtags that we still use: #livewithlight #lovewithlight

So that, my friends, is "what happened to Faleena Hopkins" in a nutshell. 



Keywords/Phrases: Faleena Hopkins trademark, Faleena Hopkins cockygate, Faleena Hopkins cocky series


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