Thursday, June 28, 2012

Whole Lotta of Bogus Goin' On!

Recently, my husband Victor was falsely accused of infringement by another author. Last week I received one of those bogus emails banks caution us about. In it, the sender, who finds spelling and sentence structure insurmountable challenges, has taken the time to advise me that for security purposes or as he says, "purposres," the personal information for my bank account needs to be updated immediately. This individual is so thoughtful that he provides a special link for me to send him the information to access my checking account. And only this morning I received a congratulatory email from Mr. Albert Leighton of Microsoft "Cooperation" letting me know I have won a vast some of money and need to email all my personal information to him as soon as possible. But I digress, let's return to the infringement issue.

Victor wrote a delightful children's story for pre-schoolers about a little amphibian who inadvertently finds himself aboard a spacecraft to the moon. Another children's book author has also written a children's book with a little amphibian who has the same name as the character in my husband's children's book. One would think the world of publishing is large enough to contain two children's books with two little chaps with the same name. The online publisher who lists both books has apparently taken the woman's infringement claim seriously and has removed my husband's book from their listing while the matter is looked into. I am going to share my thoughts about all this in the "what if" form of writing I'm fond of here on my uncopyrighted, unregistered, untrademarked, but not unread personal blog.

What if I wrote a children's story. In my story, the name of the main character and its species are different from those in Victor's and claimant's stories as I don't want to be accused of double-infringement, whatever that may be. Let's say the animal in my example story is a bunny rabbit named Bunny Bonnie -- not to be confused with Playboy bunnies of the same name. I could even name her Baby Bunny Bonnie. No, that is simply too difficult to say (not for pre-schoolers, for me). For the purposes of this rather informal discussion, suppose another author, one we'll call Unethical Ethel, has written a totally different children's story but one that also has a bunny character in it named Bonny (note y ending not ie).  My bunny is a grey rabbit, big, bold, graceful, and rather dignified, while Ethel's bunny is one of those fluffy, pink, pudgy bunnies who look, I may say, rather predictably phony. Ethel, who apparently confuses herself with Disney Studios and her Bonny with Minnie Mouse, brings a claim of infringement against me. I could rename my bunny "Princess, the Rabbit Formerly Known as Bonnie" but instead I'm taking an imaginative hop and having my bunny publish a children's book about a character named Billy Bob Bobcat. Bonnie's Billy Bob book really takes off and as a matter of fantasy, right now her agent is in contract negotiations for an animated film version. There are even rumors Billy Bob Thornton may do the voiceover for Bonnie's bobcat. However, as luck would have it, another bunny named Bette (note e not y) has also published a children's book with a character named Billy Bob. You can see where I'm going with this. And I'd like to continue writing but my husband just informed me a lawyer representing Jerry Lee Lewis is on the phone waiting to speak to me.

One final note to all little girls, women, and elderly ladies named Barbara. I am absolutely certain that my parents had no intention of infringing on the rights of your parents when they christened me.


  1. What I find amazing is that the "online publisher" did not even bother to check your husband's side of the story and pulled the book right away. Like you rightly point out this can happen to any of us. It's one more thing to worry about in this wild frontier. I hope Victor prevails and this issue gets resolved.

    1. Hi Rolando,

      Thanks for your comment. You know I mentioned to you on another occasion that the lesson Victor and I learned is to keep those records and dates.

  2. I'm very sorry this has happened. There are so many "what if's" in the world. And so many characters with similar names. How can any publisher pull one book, but not the other, without carefully looking into all of it before penalizing one author. Your writing is stellar here, as usual. And your bank account is safe, if for no other reason than you can spot a fool a mile away. You are in all authors' thoughts, Dear Barbara.

  3. Thank you, Laura. I appreciate your ongoing support and beautiful friendship.

  4. Oh Barbara, you are so funny. What a lot of Bunnies (note 'ies') and Betties and Billy Bob nonsense. Some people have nothing better to do. I would suspect that your husband's book is much better written than hers and she is trying to get rid of the competition. He should take it as a compliment :)

  5. Hi Claire, Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and comment. I had fun writing this post but the reality of false accusation is anything but funny. As you say, "Some people!"