Let’s talk about something today – trademark infringement. I spend a great deal of time on the blog detailing things you can and can’t do legally in your craft business related to copyrights and trademarks. In fact, there’s a whole section dedicated to trademarks on the Cutting for Business blog that you can view here.
Every once in a while, I see a conversation online or I get an email in my inbox asking for “proof” of shops being shut down or legal action taken against small sellers. It seems that some small sellers have convinced themselves that trademark infringements are some sort of urban myth. Today, let’s debunk the myth and look at the facts.
The easiest way for me to show you that trademark infringements are real is to take a look at Etsy’s transparency report. This document is released yearly by Etsy and details numbers. Here’s a link to the 2016 report. The 2017 report should be released in the coming months.
What’s the Purpose of the Transparency Report from Etsy?
Etsy states that the purpose of the Transparency Report is: “… quantifies how we handle allegations of intellectual property infringement, content that doesn’t meet our guidelines, transactional disputes between members, and requests to disclose member information.” -Page 3, Etsy Transparency Report, 2016
Notable Numbers from the Transparency Report
- Etsy received 18,857 properly submitted takedown notices.
- Etsy removed or disabled access to 235,201 listings from 59,131 sellers.
- Etsy closed 4,525 shops for repeat infringement.
- There was a 70% increase in intellectual-property related takedowns from the previous year.
- Etsy provided legal information for 75 formal requests.
- Information from pages 5 to 7, Etsy Transparency Report, 2016.
Are Trademarks Only a Concern on Etsy?
No. Trademarks are a concern everywhere – from craft shows and fairs to selling to friends and family to using social media or your own website. I used Etsy to highlight the seriousness of trademark infringement because the numbers are readily available.
What does this article highlight? It. Isn’t. Worth. It. It simply isn’t worth it to attempt to sell products with trademarked sayings, cartoon characters, or brand logos. Not only can your shop get shut down – but you could be taken to court – and potentially lose your business, home, savings, and more.
Let another crafter know that trademark infringement is a big deal. Save the image below to Pinterest.