Update on Recent Trademark Proceedings (Updated)

As many in the romance community are aware, tomorrow the District Court for the Southern District of New York will hear motions for Preliminary Injunction filed by HopHop Productions against Tara Crescent and Jennifer Watson and to dismiss without prejudice the pending Petition for Cancellation brought by Defendant Kevin Kneupper before the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board. Since the matter concerning the trademark in question was first brought to our attention, RWA and the Authors Guild have been working diligently with attorneys to determine an appropriate course of action as the trademarking of a single, commonly-used word has broad implications across the romance writing community. In advance of tomorrow's hearing, we would like to give an update on our actions and plans moving forward.

On Wednesday, May 16, lawyers for the Authors Guild and RWA sent a Demand Letter on behalf of RWA and Authors Guild and member Tara Crescent to lawyers representing Faleena Hopkins. The Letter demanded that Ms. Hopkins retract trademark infringement claims and cease all future claims. The Letter demanded that Ms. Hopkins provide written assurances within seven business days of this letter that she had complied with the requests, and that she send our attorneys copies of her communications to Amazon and other platforms apologizing for her imprudent and improper demands. The Letter further advised that RWA and the Authors Guild would be filing a petition to cancel the trademark and requested a response from Hopkins within seven business days.

On Friday, May 25, Ms. Hopkins filed motions for Preliminary Injunction and a Temporary Restraining Order against Tara Crescent, Kevin Kneupper, and Jennifer Watson publishing , promoting, selling, distributing an anthology titled "Cocktales, The Cockiest Anthology.” The lawyers we hired to send the Demand letter to Cease and Desist appeared at the TRO hearing that was held the same day on a few hours notice to defend Ms. Crescent’s right to keep her books available for sale.

The Temporary Restraining Order was denied, and a hearing to consider the motion for Preliminary Injunction will take place in New York City tomorrow, June 1. Ms. Crescent will be represented by attorneys from Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP.

Because RWA believes this is an important matter that will have ramifications for all our membership, we have voted to fund Ms. Crescent’s legal fees from our Legal fund. The vote includes the amount our attorneys suggested Ms. Crescent’s defense would cost through the preliminary injunction stage. RWA will continue to monitor the litigation as it proceeds and evaluate what is necessary.

UPDATE 6.4.2018: 
On Friday, June 1, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York​, refused to grant Ms. Hopkins' request for a Preliminary Injunction against Tara Crescent and Jennifer Watson in an early victory for RWA and the Authors Guild.

RWA and the Authors Guild continue to be in conversation with our attorneys about next steps. More updates to follow as we work to ensure that this trademark will not stand.
 
RWA would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Authors Guild, the attorneys at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP, the attorneys at Leason Ellis LLP representing Kevin Kneupper pro bono, the attorneys at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP representing Jennifer Watson, and all those who have partnered with us to fight against this egregious overreach, including Tara Crescent, Kevin Kneupper, Jennifer Watson, and everyone who has generously donated to the RWA Advocacy Fund and Perseverance Fund. 
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