Etsy trademark and copyright violations
If you intend to sell items or are currently selling items on Etsy.com you should ensure that:
- You are not using someone’s registered trademark;
- You register your trademark to protect your business; and
- You are not infringing on another person’s intellectual property rights.
As an Etsy store owner you are selling your goods nationwide and as a result can and should obtain U.S. trademark registration for your protection.
Avoid Etsy Trademark Infringement
Prior to using a name a business owner must ensure that they aren’t infringing upon another business’s trademark. Without such a search, you are subjecting your business to potential trademark infringement. Litigation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, it can easily be prevented with a trademark registration. So step 1 is making sure you are using a name that is solely owned by you.
Etsy currently has a policy in place where the infringed party can contact Etsy to get the infringing material removed. However, this does not settle the fact that the seller may still be liable for trademark infringement and as a result trademark damages. The best way to ensure you don’t infringe is to obtain trademark registration yourself.
- Do your research to ensure you are not taking another company’s name
Respond to False Claims of Copyright Infringement on Etsy
Etsy provides a policy for reporting copyright or intellectual property infringement, as described above. However, because of the difficulty in doing so, Etsy cannot verify every infringement claim. As a result, and in conformity with its policy, Etsy will remove the alleged infringing material after receiving a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice. If you receive notice of infringement from Etsy and believe it is incorrect you should pursue a counter notice in accordance with the DMCA. Unfortunately, people may incorrectly mistake your use as infringement or unfairly take advantage of Etsy’s policy to decrease competition. Consequently, you should seek the advice of an attorney to evaluate the claim, and if necessary, file a counter notice on your behalf to re-list your items. See our Etsy Infringement Response Services for more information.
- Don’t allow false claims to build up. Etsy has a 3 strikes and you’re out policy.
Protect Your Etsy Trademark
Trademark Registration of your Etsy store gives you exclusive nationwide rights to use the name in relation to your goods or services. This will ensure you have the legal rights to use the name, protect you from trademark infringement actions, as well as prevent others from using the same name. By selling goods nationwide you are selling in interstate commerce. As a result, you have the right to acquire nationwide protection for your trademark. If you advertise nationwide you should take the necessary steps to protect your trademark nationwide.
- The easiest way to ensure you don’t infringe on someone else is to acquire nationwide rights to your name.
Etsy Logo Infringement
One noticeable ubiquitous infringement found on Etsy was the use of trademarked business logos. For example, if you sell sports paraphernalia, make sure you do not use the logos of the school or team without permission. This is trademark infringement. In order to sell goods associated with a school or sports team you have to obtain a license. Selling items with the trademark of another business may subject you to triple actual damages as well as a fine of up to $100,000 per type of goods for non-willful infringement. If you have an intent to confuse the public into thinking the goods are actually from the school or sports team you may be subject to willful infringement which is up to $1,000,000 per type of goods. In other words, stay away from using another business’s trademark without permission.
- College logos, company logos, and images tied to businesses are protectable trademarks.
- Read the fine print. It is most likely illegal to sell items with logos, even in situations where you purchased materials (cloth) with college logos on them.
Etsy Copyright Infringement
Another common intellectual property infringement found on Etsy was use of a character’s likeness. For example, if you sell stuffed dolls resembling Harry Potter, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, or Mario and Luigi, and identify them as these characters, you have produced a derivative work based upon a copyrighted work. As a result, J.K. Rowling, Disney, or Nintendo can sue you for infringement. In order to create goods based on these characters you need to obtain a license from the copyright owners. Some uses may be considered fair use, however, if you are selling these goods without a license you are most likely infringing.
- Avoid character use, unless you have permission.
Don’t use images for your products you found on Google Images or another Etsy shop. Exclusive ownership of and the right to make use of those images are owned by the copyright owner. Google images is not a database of free images. In fact, in the majority of cases, use of those images is copyright infringement. If you want to use images from another site, make sure you purchase a license for those images. For example you can purchase standard licenses from websites that sell images, such as 123rf.com.
- Don’t use images off of Google. Buy licenses for any images you use or take the pictures yourself.
Other Questions Regarding My Etsy Store
If you have other trademark or copyright questions please submit them via our contact page. We’ll continually update this page to further assist Etsy store owners with their intellectual property questions.
I Need Help With My Etsy Store
If you find yourself in an Etsy infringement predicament, we can help. Give us a call at (843) 654-0078.