Why Buying a Commercial Use Cut File Doesn’t Guarantee You Commercial Use Rights

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Commercial use licenses on designs can sometimes be difficult to understand. Click here for a little review of licenses.

Now, let me share a story of something that recently happened to me: I received an email with a concerned Etsy shop owner asking me for advice about her Etsy shop. Without giving out too much information to identify her, she sells adorable paper banners for kid’s birthdays made with a Silhouette Portrait. This shop owner has glowing 5 star reviews and a few hundred sales.

However, it was recently brought to her attention in a crafting group that her shop had some serious trademark and copyright infringements. Her products all feature popular cartoon characters like Disney Princesses, My Little Pony, and Sesame Street. This shop owner was surprised. She was looking to me for advice because she had purchased the files for all of her banners through Etsy sellers and had made sure that commercial use licenses were included.

So, what’s the problem here? She has a commercial use license for every design she is using!

The problem: While this shop owner thought she was doing the right thing by purchasing commercial use cut files, the sellers of the commercial use cut files that this seller purchased do not have the rights to sell the designs because they are trademarked and/or copyright protected. This shop owner is now faced with the decision of how she will continue her business because she doesn’t want to sell infringing products but did not realize that the sellers didn’t have permission to sell the file commercially.

Why Did I Share This Story With You?

I shared this story to highlight that even if you purchase a commercial use file from a private seller – it does not exclude you from having to abide by trademark and copyright laws.

Personally, I’d venture to say that there are no private sellers that have a license to redistribute any popular cartoon character via a cut file. This would include Disney characters, Universal characters, tv show characters, movie characters, and so on. I also wouldn’t limit this to just cartoon characters. I highly doubt that any private seller has the rights to sell professional sports team logos or brand name logos.

The takeaway? Do your research before purchasing commercial use cut files. Be sure that they aren’t trademarked or covered under copyright laws. The act of purchasing a commercial use cut file does not guarantee you commercial use rights. If you don’t, you are opening yourself and your business up to potential legal action against you.

Share, share, share! Save the image below to Pinterest and let’s get this information out to sellers.

Why Buying a Commercial Use Cut File Doesn't Guarantee you Commercial Use Rights - Silhouette and Cricut Small Business - by cuttingforbusiness.com.

12 thoughts on “Why Buying a Commercial Use Cut File Doesn’t Guarantee You Commercial Use Rights”

  1. Thank you for sharing this story and it’s great information (as usual!! Love your emails in my inbox daily!) – it brought up something I’ve been wondering about recently. There are several FB groups who sell either ready to press transfers made with Lily Pulitzer designs, or sell Lily Pulitzer HTV or adhesive vinyl that they print. Is it appropriate to ask if they’re licensed? I’m naive I guess and thought they’d have to be to have the designs- but in the day of scan and trace I guess maybe not. Thanks!

  2. Good article Christine. I have a site I shop at sometimes…not on Etsy but it’s own website and I have stayed away from some character svg’s because I questioned whether the “commercial license” wouldn’t bring me trouble. I did e-mail them regarding and got no reply. That was all the answer I needed. Good that you brought this to people’s attention to research and beware.

  3. Hi Christine!
    This is such a fantastic article. Ever since I came across your website years ago, which by the way there is nothing else out there that goes into the great detail that you do ( internet HIGH FIVE); I settled with myself as a stationery artist that I wasn’t going to invest time or money into certain stamp company’s or registered trade marked svgs or svgs that would be “questionable” because at the end of the day; it is just paper and living life that is honorable is more important than money.

  4. I have seen the Lilly Pullitzer ( I’m sure I totally wrecked her name…) on the big commercial vinyl selling sites and on etsy… so is it the vinyl that might be a no no, or something with it being on a tshirt?

    Just wondering… bc shouldn’t someone have caught it by now?! Thanks!

  5. Thank you for the information! You took me out of my doubt with this topic. I am considering opening an Etsy shop, and I wonder how would you be able to obtain legal use of the licenses such as Disney or Marvel?

  6. So this just happened to me with not even a logo. I thought I was safe because I bought the commercial license and was trying to do it the right way but even words can be trademarked and I guess can’t be used.

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