A cocky bot
to help you spot
a romance-related
trademark cock-up.

Who or what is CockyBot?

CockyBot is a Twitter bot that scans the US Patent and Trademark Office's database for recent applications to register trademarks relevant to authors of fiction. It's been described as an “advanced warning system on crazy trademarks”, but it can double as a fun way to discover creatively-titled new book series. Initially – as the bot's creation was inspired by #cockygate – its focus was on romance novels, but its search has now expanded to include other genres of fiction as well due to popular demand.

CockyBot makes two different types of notifications:

1. On a daily basis, it looks for new filings. At this stage the USPTO has accepted the filing as complete, but has not made any judgement of whether or not to grant it. It is possible to file a letter of protest regarding the application at this stage, but the grounds to successfully protest are relatively narrow: the term must be generic or merely descriptive, or there must be a chance of confusion with another mark that is either already federally registered or in the application process.

TESS is updated with new filings around 12 AM Pacific. CockyBot is currently scheduled to run at 12:30 AM Pacific. Updates to TESS usually lag four or so days behind actual filings, so notification on CockyBot will also be several days after the actual filing date. Note that, due to the weekend, new filings are generally not added Saturday night.

Notification of new filing events will contain this wording:

An application to trademark “X” was just filed.

2. On Tuesdays, the USPTO publishes the Trademark Official Gazette containing a list of marks that have passed examination and that it intends to grant. This publication opens a 30-day window in which affected parties may formally oppose the application. The grounds on which a mark may be successfully opposed are generally broader than those on which a protest can succeed and may include common law trademarks and priority. The bot looks for these publications weekly.

Notification of a publication for opposition will contain this wording:

An application to trademark “X” was just published for opposition.

What does it specifically look for?

The bot searches for active applications for trademarks or collective marks containing relevant terms in the description of goods and services covered by the mark. The search is limited to applications with classes that cover books, ebooks, novels, and short stories (i.e. international classes 009 and 016). It only looks for “standard character marks” – defined as marks consisting “of standard characters without claim to any particular font style, size, or color.”

A typical query to TESS from CockyBot looks something like this, where $genreList is a variable of current genres it's searching for, e.g. 'romance or mystery or fantasy or "science fiction" or etc': `FD > 20180504 < 20180518 AND (book OR novels NOT NEAR graphic OR "short stories")[GS] WITH (fiction NOT NEAR non OR fictional OR novels OR "short stories" OR $genreList)[GS] SAME (("009" OR "016") WITH IC)[GS] AND ("4")[MD] AND (LIVE)[LD] AND (Trademark OR "Collective Mark")[TM]

What are the links in the tweets?

The first two are both links to the USPTO's Trademark Status & Document Retrieval site. The first is a summary page, with the current status of the application and full descriptions of what goods and services it covers, among other information. The second is a direct link to all documents on file pertaining to the application.

The third and final link is to a search page on Amazon.com with results from a search made using the application's word mark in the books category. This is provided both to help you conveniently find evidence a term is already in generic use for fiction, giving potential grounds for a letter or protest, and to easily check out interesting names just for fun.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, CockyBot earns from qualifying purchases made when using the Amazon link.

Sharyn Ferns:


Protesting an application before a publication for opposition:

Opposing after a publication for opposition:

Searching for trademark records: