Stopping the LitRPG Trademark...

Discussion in 'All Things LitRPG' started by Paul Bellow, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    The evolution of orcs over time. And the whole hobbit to halfling. I renamed kobolds just to be safe in Tower of Gates!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Dragovian

    Dragovian Over-enthusiastic Tank wtb Pocket Healer LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen

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    I'm obligated to give this a like for the inclusion of the Garrosh gif.
     
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  3. Jun

    Jun Level 13 (Assassin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I just stumbled across this on Facebook when worlds collided between my personal life, and my online writing community life. Apparently the brother of my friend/former professor (Tod Goldberg) called MSE out on his trademarking, and a bunch of real NYT bestselling authors roasted the poop out of him when he tried to defend his ridiculous claims.

    Edit: You have to click on the FB or Comment icon to be directed to facebook. Otherwise it'll send you to the article. FB (in response to MSE's comment) is where the gold is.

     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  4. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    The only response I can have at the moment.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    "I pulled my Faleena in college. Super painful."

    And

    "I’m starting to feel empathy. Good god."

    I laughed so hard my dog had to come investigate and make sure I was okay.
     
  6. Joshua Mason

    Joshua Mason Steam Whistle Alley LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen

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    I had to look up 'ersatz'
     
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  7. Windfall

    Windfall Level 17 (Theurgist) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I wrote a long 2000-word post with the intent to post it on reddit to call for more empathy on both sides, but then decided against it because it ended up being way too rambly and I kinda lost my point along the way.

    The gist of my post is that: being an indie author is tough, and most readers don't realize this. Tough -- because you feel like you're out on your own, with no established systems to protect you, and when you put anyone in that situation, it triggers some very basic animal instincts of trying to be 'safe'. After reading more of Faleena Hopkins' story, I can kinda see where she's coming from, and there are some authors speaking up in favor of trademarking stuff, and the internet was quick to turn against them and hit the downvote button. So, emotions are high on both sides.

    I understand now that traditional publishing provides some sort of protection or at least a sense of security for authors. When my non-LitRPG non-fiction educational book was no longer 'self-published', but picked up by a real publishing house, there was a tremendous sense of relief. It's psychological. You're safe. Someone's got your back. Indie authors don't get any of this. All they freakin' get is the uncertainty of KU and a bunch of star ratings, and a readership that's rather fickle and price-conscious, and Amazon is most of the time not on their side -- so their position's rather precarious, and when you feel that constant sense of threat and insecurity, you really have to fight the urge to build fortresses and hide in echo chambers that worship you just to feel safe. You are very upset and worried at bad reviews because you bear the brunt of the consequences -- judgment, loss of sales, without a professional publisher helping to guide you, without someone else professional to say "Hey, too bad that one didn't sell! I, for one, thought it was great and that's why I invested in it" that would soften the blow. You try to protect your work by trademarking stuff, because it makes you feel safe(r) -- because you know that ultimately you're powerless should something bad happen. You sometimes snap and start engaging in shady practices, or just downright get hostile at readers, who have become your enemies -- since they're the one with all the power. Sometimes even other authors become the enemy. Amazon has created an eco-system of survival of the fittest, and this further puts authors in a precarious stressed-out situation. When you're stressed out, you just bite everything that you perceive as a threat. What it's all about in the first place kinda gets lost as well. But I don't really blame the authors. It's a tough spot to be in, and you need a lot of self-awareness not to fall into those traps. What do you expect when you throw unprepared young-ish people into a pit and ask them to compete while being constantly judged by strangers, and on top of that the rules can change at any moment -- and oh, your livelihood also depends on it as well. People would go crazy.

    All this is the effect of stress. When we're acting out of fear, it brings out the worst in us. If we want to promote a positive atmosphere, I would say we should try to create a system where everybody feels safe.
     
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  8. Jun

    Jun Level 13 (Assassin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Intellectually I get what you're saying, but emotionally...

    I'm an indie author too. The way these authors have conducted themselves with their trademarks boggles my mind. Hopkins in particular was very aggressive in sending threatening emails out to people who used the word in their titles. Sure, I can joke about wanting to trademark "Online" or "A LitRPG Adventure," but actually wanting to do it and spending money on it? No way.

    I feel like the biggest offenders in this trend are suffering from delusions of grandeur. I can't speak for Hopkins, but in the case of MSE it seems like he had some success in a niche subgenre that went to his head and caused him to forget that most people outside of his tiny market had never even heard of him until he started trying to overreach. Register your copyright, and go after any books you discover that rip off your work. Trademarking words that people have been using long before you, and claiming them as your brand is just ridiculous. If the depths of your creativity extend to only putting together cliche titles, you've got bigger issues as a writer than discovering books with similar names.

    Thinking back on my first novel "The Beautiful Dead" it was complete and there were no other books on the market at the time that was using the name. I decided to try looking for an agent for a few years before finally choosing to self publish. By that time two other books appeared on the market with the exact same title. Is it time to piss moan, or contemplate legal action since an early truncated draft was published via a university press before any of the other books were released? Absolutely not. I get it. It's a title. It sucks that it's no longer unique, but that's how it goes. I realize that no one is trying to rip me off because they've come up with similar names recently. That's something that the trademark trolls don't seem to grasp.

    Personally, I firmly believe that if I ever go so far as to attempt a trademark on a common word, or a a cover layout that's been in use ever since books had modern illustrated covers I'd deserve every bit of backlash I'd get.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  9. Blaise

    Blaise Level 6 (Footpad) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    "I feel like the biggest offenders in this trend are suffering from delusions of grandeur. I can't speak for Hopkins, but in the case of MSE it seems like he had some success in a niche subgenre that went to his head and caused him to forget that most people outside of his tiny market had never even heard of him until he started trying to overreach. "

    I probably shouldn't interrupt the dogpile here since some of ya'all seem to be rather enjoying yourselves (and it takes away from writing more books, which pays my bills), but he was like #50 or lower in the entire Amazon store.

    Faleena did some silly stuff, but she was legitimately making an epic shit ton of money, and people were legitimately stealing her work.

    When I eventually TM some of my series titles, I'm sure folks will freak out too--I'm not looking forward to it. Anyway, I won't interrupt the dogpile any longer.

    Cheers
     
  10. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    Doesn’t matter how popular or successful someone is. Popularity and money is not a blanket excuse for being stupid, and then on top of that, compounding it by throwing other people under the bus that’s headed your way. Or just for being an asshole, for that matter.
     
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  11. Alexis Keane

    Alexis Keane Level 14 (Defender) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    As long as you don't trademark the word "LLC", no one will actually give a shit... there's a difference between a reasonable trademark and an overreaching one... judging from the lack of similar titles - beyond adventure capital as the name of a pre-existent book - I doubt anyone will see the trademark as anything but valid...
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  12. Jason Maskell

    Jason Maskell Level 10 (Filcher) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    And now she's hated by her peers and doesn't have her silly trademark. All she did was earn a bunch of hatred and lose a lot of money. WIN.

    If they were "stealing her work" - then she had a legitimate copyright infringement case. I guess you mean they were doing something in her genre, and using the word "cocky." I guess that would apply to you too, since you're infringing on Aleron's TM by writing LitRPG, right?

    As long as you don't try to trademark a common word or phrase, I'm sure no one will mind. Delvers LLC, for instance - you made that up. Ludus - also yours.

    It's funny, if I'm reading the zorkmids right, this is the third time (day) you've visited the board since you registered over a year ago, and your eighth message. Defending these two is what you spent it on. Interesting.
     
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  13. Simon Fiasco

    Simon Fiasco Bringer of the Avocadopocalypse LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Emphasis mine.

    You know, because Ludus may be a world in Delvers, LLC., but it's also a pivotal world in what is arguably the most well-known novel even tangentially related to LitRPG, Ready Player One. I get the feeling if someone tried to trademark Ludus, they'd be in for an uphill battle.
     
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  14. Jun

    Jun Level 13 (Assassin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Hypocrisy is the other thing that gets me about MSE. He talks so much about protecting his intellectual property, and yet has no respect for that of others. Any one of the things discussed recently might be overlooked but when you have them all together not so much...

    As for how big a following he has, he recently made a post about how selling on other sites wasn't worth his time. If he has that many devoted readers, they should be willing to follow him elsewhere to get his books. If anything, this gives some credibility to Amazon's accusations about abusing KU.

    George RR Martain is currently #59 in all Amazon (Amazon.com Most Popular Authors: The most popular authors on Amazon). Would GRRM be in the poor house if Amazon said "We're not carrying any more of your products?" No way, because people are loyal to his brand and are going to go where they have to go in order to experience his writing. There's no way in hell I'm gonna believe that MSE was outselling Game of Thrones + all of GRRM's side projects on Amazon.

    Edit: GRRM just dropped to #60 so I guess these rankings are shifting in real time. You might have to click forward or back to find him in the link above.

    I was looking over his self written Amazon bio, and he says his books have been critically acclaimed, and yet I couldn't find a single professional review of one of his novels in the first 5 pages of google search results. After that I stopped searching since the results didn't have anything to do with MSE at that point. Compare to other authors (I used Mercedes Lackey as a test sample) and the same search replacing his name with hers turns up professional reviews in the first 10 links. Seems like more misrepresentation, and all of these bits of information just aren't adding up.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
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  15. Alexis Keane

    Alexis Keane Level 14 (Defender) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Ludus would be hard for Blaise to trademark... he can trademark his series name, his whole title... once you start grinding things down piecemeal, however, things become tricky, and frankly a waste of money... he certainly couldn't stop people using Ludus (the latin for game) in their books, or even their titles to be honest... sure it offers a bit of protection if people try ripping him off, but people are far more likely to try ripping off Aleron rather than him... if Aleron's not relevant enough to get ripped off, then I doubt anyone else in the LitRPG genre is...
     
  16. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Exactly.

    I don't think anyone's begrudging Faleena or MSE their success. As long as it's legitimate success. If they're cheating with book-stuffing, buying reviews, etc. then I definitely don't feel it's unreasonable to be annoyed at them over that as they are literally taking money from others doing that. So as long as they're playing by the rules to make their money, they earned it and it's theirs and kudos to them. Seriously. They know how to market and they have done very well and that's impressive. I will give the devil his due.

    However, people are angry because they're A) trying to trademark things they don't have any real claim to in the sense they're trying to say they do and B) ignoring the fact that others were using the very things they're trying to trademark years before them. It's the same as Kong trying to trademark LitRPG. Faleena is scarcely the first to write erotica using the word Cocky in the title or even the first to use it as part of a series title I'm 110% sure. If she was trying to trademark the word Cocky in a certain style/font/whatever than I think people would be less irritated, but she just wanted the word in general. That's way too unreasonable.

    MSE is trying to trademark things that don't even belong to him, for one, such as "Dragon Slayer", which has been used in multiple series, movies, and books! Tamer? There's probably 300+ books on Amazon right now with the word Tamer in the title or in the series title. The Destroyer is just ridiculous because the Remo Williams series has been out probably longer than MSE has been alive since it was first published in 1971. The book cover trademark attempt is just ridiculous because a title on top, a figure in the middle with a weapon and the author's name at the bottom is the cover design of so many books that it's probably less work to name books without that on the cover. Heck, even King of the Dinosaurs has been used in a ton of books, mostly about t-rexes if you look on Amazon!

    Now, if he was specifically trying to trademark "Tamer: King of the Dinosaurs" than I doubt anyone would raise an eyebrow. That's his series and that's fair for him to want to trademark. No problem there. So it's not that we're all "dogpiling" on him because...what? We're just mean? It's because his behavior is atrocious and disrespectful to the authors he's literally trying to cheat out of their livelihood and work with his actions. If he wasn't behaving like a donkey's behind, no one would care even slightly. But he is and so he has to deal with the fallout of those actions. He's definitely making a name for himself, but certainly not in the way he was likely hoping.
     
  17. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    I've come across a few authors that'll remain nameless whose work I completely stopped enjoying because I interacted with them and they thought they were King Turd of Shit Hill and acted like the south end of a northbound donkey.
     
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  18. FrustratedEgo

    FrustratedEgo Level 11 (Thief) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    He visits a lot more often then that - he just doesn't log in.

    Please focus on legally pursuable options that will actually solve problems rather than crowdsourcing a pitch fork mob in an effort to browbeat people into changing their mind.

    I'm not saying anyone here is leaning one way or the other deliberately or consciously, but I'm finding it hard to take this topic in a detached manner anymore. I'd post more on this topic, but as evidenced by Reddit yesterday, my statements are unwelcome.
     
  19. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    The most effective and legal way seems to be voting with wallets and scorn.
     
  20. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    It looks like MSE is withdrawing/ending his attempt to trademark the cover art.



    It's mentioned in a comment he's going to attempt to copyright a more detailed version with certain font/logo, which is fine by me. If he wants to trademark Dragon Slayer is some distinctively stylized way that's unique, I have no qualm or complaint with him doing so.

    My objections to what he's doing has to do with his behavior toward others, his throwing people under a bus, and his attempt to make money off very generic things that he shouldn't be trying to copyright in the first place. If he stops all that and goes for legitimate trademarks, more power to him. I still wouldn't read his stuff because I tried a few and found them dull, but I don't wish him foul and I hope he managed to keep up his livelihood. I don't wish the man in the poorhouse or anything.
     




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