Texas Sues Over Porn Steamy Romance Novel Titled Don't Mess With Texas

Categories: Courts, Texas

dontmessUSETHS.jpg
Descriptions of "states of sexual arousal, etc." inside!!!
It's official: The Texas Department of Transportation hates bodice-rippers. Especially the modern ones with their manly, barechested men cradling lissome, sassy cowgirls. Especially if they involve former-cop PIs named "Dallas O'Connor."

And especially if they try to name themselves Don't Mess With Texas.

TxDOT has filed suit against publisher Hachette Book Group, Barnes & Noble and author Christie Craig over the use of their trademark motto.

"The book," TxDOT's suit says, "contains numerous graphic references to sexual acts, states of sexual arousal, etc." Selling it at Barnes & Noble, which sells many TxDOT materials with the slogan, would cause irreparable harm, the agency says.

"States of sexual arousal" apparently include, according to the search-inside function at Amazon, such pornographic sentences as "She glanced down at his sex, still standing completely erect."

And here's the ensuing sex scene:

christiecraig.jpg
Christie Craig: Don't mess with TxDOT.
As soon as the condom was in place, he rolled her completely on her back and was on top of her. Keeping his weight on his elbows, he adjusted his weight until things down south lined up. She felt the cool tips of the condom at her center. Closing her eyes, she pressed her head back in the pillow and waited for him to enter her.

"No. Open those baby blues. I want to see you when I first enter you."

She did as requested and he pushed inside. Slow, easy. Even wet with want, his fit was tight, hitting nerve endings she didn't know she had.

It continues from there until "Pleasure exploded inside her and her entire body shook with sweet spasms of release."

My, we think we have the vapors.

TxDOT's Karen Amacker tells Hair Balls the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but she notes it has won a similar suit once before.

Our efforts to contact the author, who is from Houston, and her publisher were unsuccessful, but Christie Craig's Web page notes that her books, which include Divorced, Desperate and Dating, Weddings Can Be Murder and Shut Up and Kiss Me, are "sexy, suspenseful and seriously funny."

TxDOT apparently doesn't think so.

Update: TxDOT has been sending out this response to tweets about the suit: "Dont Mess w/ TX is a registered trademarked slogan for our anti-littering campaign. U cant misrepresent the meaning of the slogan--it dilutes the value of it. We hope u understand."


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Guest
Guest

I thought Tort Reform applied to everyone.  What Judge is not Upholding their oath to the Constitution by hearing this frivoulous lawsuit, I am going to stockpile and resell the book because I am on Disability which is federally protected from garnishment, so screw you Kirk the Jerk Watson and txdot, a government agency.  WE THE PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO PETITION OUR GOVERNMENT TXDOT BELIEVES IN COMMUNISM AND OUR BELOVED MARXIST DICTATOR.  There you go, so sue me TxDot!!!

HeatherBetsy
HeatherBetsy

I (Heather Heaton) am recommending my new ebook ("Her Letters from Prison") as a motivational resource for reading pleasure, review, contemplation, and comment.  My ebook will validate your inquisitive doubts about what goes on in women’s prisons; it can justify the efforts spent toward ministries to women’s prisons; and it can be an inspirational (tell-it-like-it-is) resource for drug rehab/prevention programs.  The book is non-fiction prison romance (It is what it is!); and the original letters are included as images for authenticity.  You can go to http://www.heather-heaton.com and purchase “Her Letters from Prison”, Parts 1 and 2. If you don’t happen to own a Kindle, Nook, or some other eReader device, then download the FREE Adobe Digital Editions software to your computer to read the “epub” version of my ebook as purchased from Smashwords.  Multiple versions of my ebook are available on Smashwords. I am a 34 year old college student trying to better my life, in spite of the baggage I carry from my previous life.  To date, I have been quite successful in accomplishing this goal; and I will use the proceeds from the book to help support myself.  My picture is posted, with my book descriptions, at Smashwords.  I can be contacted using email at heatherheaton@rocketmail.com. My recently published ebook is entitled ("Her Letters from Prison:  Part 1 & Part 2", by Heather Heaton).  The ebook was published at Smashwords (www.smashwords.com).  A brief description of the ebook follows:1.      Breanna tells the true story of her experiences in prison through her letters to her friend Heath.  This is a story of survival and a quest to make a better life.  The letters describe the daily shocking events of prison life involving drugs, sex, utter devastation and humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope. 2.      Breanna's "truth" stands still even as the world around her trembles and burns!  Bad things do happen to good people; and Breanna is the perfect example of this truth. 3.      Breanna's inner strengths and principles eventually win out over the corruption and evil that surrounds her.  With God's help, Breanna survives the horrible experiences of prison life and regains her self-confidence and hope for a better life. 4.      "Breanna" was an inmate at Tutwiler Women's Prison from 2007 to 2009. 5.      "Breanna" benefitted from women's prison ministries and the LIFE Tech-Wetumpka state-funded self-help program. The Introduction page of the ebook follows: Introduction:The story you are about to read is true.  Unfortunately, it’s my story; and the truth is often much more intriguing than fiction.  I have had to deal with this story (this situation) for more than the past ten years.  I started living out this story with all the hopes and dreams of most (if not all) young American girls; and I will finish this story by realizing most of those hopes and dreams, even though they have been interrupted for a time (in prison) that seems like time and time again.  Through it all, I have managed to learn some life lessons that I hope to give to you; and I am hoping that you can pick up on these lessons earlier in life than I have done.  I should have learned these lessons long ago.  If I had learned these lessons long ago, I assure you that I would not have written the material you are now reading.  My hope is that nobody else has to endure what I have endured learning life lessons that should be given to youngsters and adolescents early in life by the ones who truly love them.  But here again, there are probably other youngsters and adolescents, much like me, who will have to learn these life lessons painfully for themselves, the hard way – by experiencing them first hand.  Well, if you continue to read my story, here’s what you will experience – drugs, sex, violence, prison, utter devastation/humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope! If you don’t take me seriously and you follow in my path, you are going to experience false hope and disillusionment!  You are going to experience broken trusts, by those whom you trusted most!  You are going to experience pain and agony that brings you to the brink of self-destruction!  You will lose your freedom!  You will lose the right to think for yourself and to make your own decisions!  You will lose your sense of self-worth and self-dignity!  You are going to lose your ability to support yourself!  You are going to lose your self-confidence!  You are going to be victimized; and you can do little to avoid this!  You will struggle and struggle and struggle just to get yourself back onto an even keel!  But if you can ever manage to muster a tremendous mountain of stubbornness and determination, and if you can begin to think better of yourself, you will be able to recover most, but not all, of your ability to manage your own affairs while regaining some of your self-confidence and feeling of self-worth.  I am just about to accomplish this in my life!  Being just about able to accomplish this in my life is what has led me to (it has allowed me to) share my story with you.  At first, I didn’t think I could ever share my story with anyone.  But, I really don’t want you to actually share (live through) my experiences, even if you think you can handle it.  Just read this story and do something positive in your own life. Note:  Names have been changed to protect each individual's privacy. Dedication:This work is dedicated to Valrise Bendolf (Clay County Dept. of Corrections Holding Facility), Jackie Ratliff (Kilby – Montgomery Womens’ Facility), Fawn Romie/Mr. Roberts/Gary Parsons (Life Tech) and all of Mr. Robert’s little roses that he so diligently cultivated.  For all their good works, these people saved my life!  I hope that you find this ebook both interesting and helpful. Sincerely,                                  Heather Heatonheatherheaton@rocketmail.comhttp://www.heather-heaton.comhttp://www.herlettersfrompriso...  Customer/Reader Review of “Her Letters from Prison”Heather, ever since you first contacted me about your ebooks (and when I received them) I have been giving them traction.  At least two women on my case load checked them out, (like a library card so I would get them back) and were very moved by the content.  I haven’t had another problem with their behavior since they read them.  So…I know they are working.  They should be required reading, ordered by a Judge before women are sentenced to probation, so that they would fully understand the consequences of their behavior.  The coverage by The Prison Art Coalition blog is very good news both for Heather and for those that will read her story.   They (“Her Letters from Prison:  Parts 1 & 2) should be used as text books for the next Life Tech facility for Women!!!  I wish I had some pull for money to build a better one.  I pray for it. Gary ParsonsParole OfficerState of Alabama – Board of Pardons & Parole

Char
Char

I'm not from Texas, I'm a California Girl, so I wouldn't note the slogan in the book title.  I could point out that the TxDOT stole their slogan and the Daughters of the Alamo should sue TxDOT.  I could also point out that Texas should want people to read this and decided to see Texas, heck it's free advertising.  But I would think that like CalTrans, TxDOT is taxpayer funded and the taxpayers probably think that Texas should fix their roads and quit complaining about free advertising.  I think in the future I will just avoid Texas. 

picturelady
picturelady

Give me a break!  I know that Christie Craig sells her book to more than just Texans. I LOVE romance books and if parts are a bit suggestive, so be it.

I honestly do not see what this book and Texas Litter have in common!

keystonelonestar
keystonelonestar

Perhaps TxDOT doesn't know that it's a part of the state government and therefore can't 'own' a trademark because their work belongs to the State, which, in turn, belongs to the people of the State?

bug
bug

Yeah, or maybe somebody put super glue in their Preparation H and they're just really, really constipated.

Kzriley
Kzriley

I have heard and read the phrase "Don't Mess with Texas" many times, yet I don't recall seeing it followed by the registered trademark symbol. It makes me wonder if TX_DOT has therefore diluted its own trade mark. And why does a state need to spend money tradmarking its slogan anyway? Id the prior uses of this term in music and entertainment have not been challenged by Tx_DOT it weakens their chance of succeeding this time.

Seleste deLaney
Seleste deLaney

From a Harvard Law site on Trademark law: "Trademark rights can also be lost through genericity. Sometimes, trademarks that are originally distinctive can become generic over time, thereby losing its trademark protectionKellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co., 305 U.S. 111 (1938). A word will be considered generic when, in the minds of a substantial majority of the public, the word denotes a broad genus or type of product and not a specific source or manufacturer. So, for example, the term "thermos" has become a generic term and is no longer entitled to trademark protection. Although it once denoted a specific manufacturer, the term now stands for the general type of product. Similarly, both "aspirin" and "cellophane" have been held to be generic. Bayer Co. v. United Drug Co., 272 F.505 (S.D.N.Y. 1921). In deciding whether a term is generic, courts will often look to dictionary definitions, the use of the term in newspapers and magazines, and any evidence of attempts by the trademark owner to police its mark."

The phrase "Don't Mess with Texas" is not connected in the minds of most people in the country with TXDoT. With Texas in general, but not with the specific department. If this goes to court, I would hazard to guess based on this issue alone, TXDoT will lose. 

Further, from the same site: "If a party owns the rights to a particular trademark, that party can sue subsequent parties for trademark infringement. 15 U.S.C. �� 1114, 1125. The standard is "likelihood of confusion." To be more specific, the use of a trademark in connection with the sale of a good constitutes infringement if it is likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source of those goods or as to the sponsorship or approval of such goods. In deciding whether consumers are likely to be confused, the courts will typically look to a number of factors, including: (1) the strength of the mark; (2) the proximity of the goods; (3) the similarity of the marks; (4) evidence of actual confusion; (5) the similarity of marketing channels used; (6) the degree of caution exercised by the typical purchaser; (7) the defendant's intent."

That means there would have to be likelihood that people would confuse the book with TXDoT. #4 shows TXDoT will have to prove actual confusion, which I'm willing to lay odds will be almost impossible. 

An example given on the site is as follows: "So, for example, the use of an identical mark on the same product would clearly constitute infringement. If I manufacture and sell computers using the mark "Apple," my use of that mark will likely cause confusion among consumers, since they may be misled into thinking that the computers are made by Apple Computer, Inc. Using a very similar mark on the same product may also give rise to a claim of infringement, if the marks are close enough in sound, appearance, or meaning so as to cause confusion. So, for example, "Applet" computers may be off-limits; perhaps also "Apricot." On the other end of the spectrum, using the same term on a completely unrelated product will not likely give rise to an infringement claim."

The book and TXDoT are totally different things, thus no trademark infringement. The lawsuit is frivolous and a waste of taxpayers' money. 

Kzriley
Kzriley

Thanks. You made my point far more effectively than I did.

www.jacquelinegeorgewriter.com
www.jacquelinegeorgewriter.com

How stupid can you get? I'm rushing off to Tweet about this piece of idiocy. I do hope TxDOT is enjoying all the publicity they are getting.

Gemmah Halliday
Gemmah Halliday

You know, Christie also writes murder mysteries.  I wouldn't be surprised if the next one of her ficitonal victims just happens to be a TxDOT admin.  Just sayin'.  Don't mess with Christie!

Alisha
Alisha

And how did TXDOT find out about this book? There are millions of romance novels released. Hmmmmm....   Ridiculous. Ms. Craig just hit the FREE PROMO JACKPOT LOTTERY. I hope she sells TONS. Also, what does TXDOT think this will do to their reputation? No one in Texas will drive on their roads or we'll all litter because of a romance novel? Maybe the TXDOT peeps should read the book so it will give them some good ideas about how to spend their free time. Clearly someone NEEDS to get laid.

angrygrrl
angrygrrl

They're kidding, right?The State where they've lied about school scores, want to sanitize text books to misrepresent American history and often talk about secession from the U.S....THIS IS WHAT OFFENDS THEM?

bug
bug

And let's not forget Tom Delay who sold the freakin Congress to the highest bidder. Yeah, definately sue an author rather than focusing on people like Rick Perry who wants to rewrite the Constitution. Way to go!

SK
SK

Seriously, Texas? Way to waste tax payer dollars on something frivolous and completely stupid. I think I'll buy the book just to tick you off.

MiaMarlowe
MiaMarlowe

Of course, you would have to yank a sex scene out of context. Romance is about relationships. Sex is just the chocolate sprinkles on the sundae. Christie's books are charming, funny and intensely readable.

The only winners in this lawsuit will be the lawyers.

Kimberlyivey2
Kimberlyivey2

Well, maybe TxDot doesn't think anyone should mess with Texas, but what they don't know is they shouldn't eff with romance authors either. This just goes to prove that we have poo brains in Austin. Obviously, someone didn't do their homework. And the doofus  who thinks the book is porn,  well, they obvious don't know porn from a possum's.....ahem...paw.   Just my two cents worth. I hope Christie sells more books than ever.

Kingraham321
Kingraham321

Seriously, people? The Texas Tourism folks should be thankful, 'cause this is going to make countless people want to visit their state. Silly, silly people...enjoy the ride and grow up!

Susan
Susan

I am so buying this book! Come on, TxDOT get a life. What is it about sex you don't like? Do you have an ED problem? Seems to me I first heard the phrase "Don't mess with Texas" years ago. Did someone sue you for using it? Oh, and blogger, the term "bodice-rippers" is archaic. It no longer applies--hasn't for close to thirty years. Romance novels deal with life and relationships. Sex is part of life. TxDOT, did you ever think that maybe people would smile in a good way when they see your logo?

RpJ
RpJ

There are a couple of issues here. Romance writers are like Rodney Dangerfield with his "I Don't Get No Respect" and get up in arms over a state protecting their trademark. If someone stole their name and associated it with the porn industry, they wouldn't be too happy. The fact of the matter is romances today are not what they were even 20 years ago and contain very many graphic steamy sex scenes.Others are porn, but they like to call them romantica or erotic romance when the primary reason for the book is sex scenes between m/m/f, f/f/m, m/m, f/f etc. Sorry Ms Craig is being sued, but she and her publisher are not on the right side of the issue on this one.

JoAnn Reardon
JoAnn Reardon

Hmmm, So, are they also going to sue everyone on cafe press that sell "Don't Mess with Texas" paraphernalia as well as all of the artists and the Texas Music Project for their CD's "Don't Mess with Texas" 1, 2, and 3? As well as Dustin Bogue for his 2006 release of "Don't Mess with Texas"? Or rapper Lil' Keke for his CD "Don't Mess with Texas" which contained a song entitled "Don't Mess with Texas" which contained explicit lyrics?

I'm not from Texas. Born in OK and raised in NE during the eighties during the time the TxDot started their advertising campaign which supposedly created that term. I never knew it was a trade-marked phrase or what it was actually suppose to represent. I think a lot of people who are not from Texas have no idea who the TxDot are or what they do (nor do we care), but we know the phrase "Don't mess with Texas." I along with most Americans assume it is a Texas pride thing...you know..."You mess with us, we'll kick your ass". Somehow littering just doesn't seem like an "ass-kicking" offense to me.

I guess this frivolous lawsuit now tells me who they are and what they stand for.

Christie
Christie

Have to admit that as a Northerner I never would have imagined that 'don't mess with Texas' had anything to do with littering.  Or that such a commonly-heard phrase, used in so many situations, could even be copyrighted. Maybe if it was the state motto.....  well, it's certainly getting everyone involved a lot of publicity.  Somehow I doubt that if it goes to court that the publisher will be forced to recall and pulp all copies of the book. It's possible there'll be a fine for copyright infringement and maybe when the book is reprinted there'll be a disclaimer.  Think that'll satisfy TxDOT?

Christie
Christie

Oops--sorry, I should have said 'trademarked' rather than copyrighted.

Roger Paulding
Roger Paulding

The ensuing sex scene? As the church lady would say, Christie, this is just too special. You go, girl!Roger

Tambrakendall
Tambrakendall

Please note: Romance is not porn and the term bodice-rippers went out of fashion years ago. Romance empowers the readers both female and male. There's a reason we hold over 50% of the publishing pie.

TxDOT getting all cranky about the title of Ms. Craig's book is absurd. To me, the lawsuit is littering up the court system.

Readers and the Texans who come across the book will not immediately think TxDOT's. slogan.  We aren't that stupid. Readers from all over the world who buy the book won't even know TxDOT's slogan. I'm proud to be a Texan but I'm not proud of the way TxDOT is behaving.

Bonnie S. Mata
Bonnie S. Mata

I think TEXAS DOT just gave her MAJOR FREE publicity!!

NAF
NAF

Reading on Wikipedia TX_Dot do own the copyright and they have issued over 20 cease and desist letters over the years.  Why didn't they do that this time?  Why go the lawsuit way. Seems a bit over the top.

Corinne
Corinne

I hope this woman's book ends up on the New York Times best seller list because of this publicity. Give me a break TxDOT!! I have never heard of this author but I'm going to buy this book. Thanks!

S.Perigo
S.Perigo

1. Christie is a fabulous, talented author who in NO WAY deserves this treatment.  Period.2. Way to waste our tax dollars during a recession, Texas.  I'm ashamed.

UnderwaterAttackCat
UnderwaterAttackCat

Really?  That a government agency is wasting funding on this is unconscionable and absurd.  This is about as stupid as when the pork industry tried to sue thinkgeek for saying unicorn meat was the new white meat.  http://www.thinkgeek.com/blog/...

Watwho
Watwho

Nothing better to represent Texas' litter campaign then a steamy "trashy" contemporary story by a beloved woman's writer who comes from where else but Texas!  Getting the book tomorrow...been waiting for it for months...maybe I'll read it while sitting on a bench along Riverwalk in Downtown San Antonio...

Dr. Charley Ferrer
Dr. Charley Ferrer

Apparently you can clean up Texas but you can't have romance and erotica in it.

Live with passion,

Dr. Charley Ferrer Clinical Sexologist & Educator

Author: BDSM FOR WRITERS and BDSM THE NAKED TRUTH

Tambrakendall
Tambrakendall

Dr. Ferrer,As I mentioned further up. Ms. Craig does NOT write erotic romance. She writes sensual romance.

It aggravates me that people writing in the genre don't take the time to understand the difference. We write ROMANCE. We have three dimensional characters who have a definite GMC-goal, motivation and conflict- both internal and external. The focus is on the romance which is part of the conflict.

Erotica is a whole other critter that is not romance.

I do know the difference. I write both sensual and erotic. I am also multi-published in each heat level.

Thank you!

Gail Nichols
Gail Nichols

I Cannot believe that this is what the TexDot officials want to spend their time and money on.If TexDot officials are so offended by the fact that Ms.Craig would want to use their motto for her book(which I plan on buying because it sounds Great!:) maybe texdot should sit down and think up another state motto and leave Ms.Craig to do what she does best entertain her many,many fans.

Jojoma64
Jojoma64

Txrot sucks! Ain't just the taxpayers they scree over,but they cannibalize their own employees!!! Its not us peasant workers at txrot though,its all the brilliant engineers and lobbyist in austin and at the district levels making 6 figures a year and looking for situations just like this to warrant their own jobs and make all of us look bad to the Texas taxpayers. Why not though,while they're tucked away in their cozy and secured offices its the true backbone of txdot(the maintenance employees) that catch all the shit they've stirred up! On behalf of most txdot maintenance workers,we're sorry for our idiotic leadership and wasteful spending! Trust me,we pay taxes too and get sick watching txrot waste money!!!!

Patti Ann
Patti Ann

As a romance author, I follow all the discussions about piracy and copyright infringement.  When I write, I'm careful about usage of copyrighted information and trademarks because that's the LAW.  Hence, TxDot has a legitimate gripe.  Matters not whether we think it's stupid or sickening, they own the registered trademark.  If the title of the book was don't mess with Coca-Cola, you better damn well bet the same thing would have happened.  We don't get to choose which infringement laws we follow and if we expect people to not copy and paste our work, then we HAVE to be careful about others rights to things.

Hermes1
Hermes1

Absolutely Texas has a right to protect its intellectual property. They own so little of it, they think a law suit is the best use of limited taxpayer resources... a suit all ready for filing the very day the book comes out. What a coincidence! If the point is to protect the slogan and not to abuse public office by advancing somebody's particular literary biases, then why not start with a letter and some civilized warnings for pity's sake? 

James Allder
James Allder

Cry me a F***ing river, Department of Public Safety -- are you serious ??  Let it go -- just let - it - go !  You embarrass me as a Texan for harassing this woman like this. 

Cheri Jetton
Cheri Jetton

Whoops, long day. Too many typos. Correct to "Unbelievable, and Read it quick, it's her best book yet."

Cheri
Cheri

Unblieveable! As authors, we cannot copywrite titles, so how can TexDot register something like this? Read it quick, it her best book yet.

Linda Barrett
Linda Barrett

Give me a brake!  Oh, wait. I think New Jersey or New York uses that to protect their construction workers.  Maybe they should trademark that instead of being glad the public slows down. TxDot, wise up. You should be paying Christie for promoting the slogan. 

patricialogan.author
patricialogan.author

Stupid and assanine TxDOT! If you think that is "pornography" you have another thing coming. Pornography is one sex scene after another ad infinitum, with absolutely no story line. This author has written an erotic romance novel. Maybe someone from the Texas Public Library system can teach you something about the differences between the two.

Tambrakendall
Tambrakendall

Patricia,Christi writes sensual romance.I know because I write both heat levels.

Dawn
Dawn

TxDot are you freaking serious? You have no clue what porn is.  Christie, I hope you gets lots of sales because of this stupidity....Love the book cover...

Kathy
Kathy

Go, Christie.  I just bought your book!Crap.  Wish I had thought of this...Kathy

Michele Graff
Michele Graff

this is so freakin lame, i hope a judge laughs their asses out of court and tells them to focus on their jobs, r they that desperate for money that they r gonna sue an author? wth

Dsomers
Dsomers

Seriously, TxDot....I bet with the money you are spending on this inane lawsuit you could fix my part of I-35 a h#ll of a lot faster! I'm going to go out and buy 5 copies of this book and give to all my friends. Thanks TxDot for giving the author some fantastic PR!

Marisa Minard Rios
Marisa Minard Rios

It's just a hot romance novel. I laughed at the few paragraphs that were available.

Char
Char

TxDOT, chill out and be glad somebody wants to use Texas in their title. It just wouldn't have the same impact if the author called it, "Don't Mess With Hoboken."

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