“A Lesson in Trademark Infringement”

I am including this entire post for fear it will be deleted by Etsy Administration, and it is a MUST READ for the Etsy seller.

GoddessOfJewelry7:41 pm Nov 16, 2013 EST edited  So my shop got shut down last week over a Trademark Infringement and I have some words of advice for you all as I’ve hired a lawyer to sort through this BS for me.
1) Just because you were served with a Trademark Infringement and Etsy removed your listing DOES NOT MEAN that someone at Etsy Legal even CHECKED THE VALIDITY of the US Trademark Reg Number.I was served with a Trademark Infringement – my third one – nothing was ever malicious, I erroneously used words that I honestly didn’t think were trademarked – I never bothered to check! But this particular third one – the one that got my shop shut down DOES NOT EXTEND TO JEWELRY. I currently have my lawyers sorting through this for me and I will be filing the forms with Etsy to counter this decision to remove the listing and shut down my shop.

Don’t, FOR ONE SECOND, ever ever ever assume that Etsy Legal has YOUR BACK. YOU, you the shop owner, who is Etsy’s client… Etsy does NOT have your back. Nobody bothered to check these trademark Registration numbers to see if they even extended to my shop. Which leads me to my second point

2) There IS NO PHONE SUPPORT. For a website that continuously preaches “the human aspect” of e-commerce and sales, there is NO “human aspect” when it comes to how WE, their clients, are treated.

Over the entire period that I was freaking out, I was never able to get Etsy on the phone. I managed to finally freak out loud enough in the forums to get someone from Admin to ask me to send them a screen shot of the Help Page that leads to nowhere and doesn’t give me a “request phone call” box (and then they concluded that something must be wrong with my iOS – gee, thanks), I managed to get some very cold emails from Etsy Legal basically telling me to retain counsel, and I managed to get an Admin to ask me to request a call back on the Help Page, WHEN THERE IS NO CALL REQUEST BOX on any of the Help Pages. Over the course of the many exchanges over my email, I included my phone number, begging for a phone call…AND NOT ONCE did I receive a phone call.

3) There is no such thing as a “Blanket trademark”. Meaning, just because someone’s trademarked the words (just using an easy example here) “Moulin Rouge” does NOT mean that it would necessarily apply to clothing or jewelry or pillowcases. They need to file a Trademark Registration for clothing, a different trademark registration for pottery, a different trademark registration for bedding/linens, a different trademark registration for playing cards, and so on and so forth. These jerks at the company who filed the Trademark Infringement against my item KNOW FULL WELL that their TR does not extend to jewelry and yet they filed it anyway, and Etsy took down my listing AND my shop without once questioning the validity of the claim by this company.

4) Etsy will shut down MY shop (and YOUR shop) over accidental Trademark Infringments, they don’t care about your otherwise impeccable track record here on Etsy, you get three strikes and that’s it – you’re out. But Etsy themselves will send out Etsy Finds email FULL OF TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENTS.

Does anyone remember the Mad Men Etsy Finds emails? Yup – that’s trademarked.

Or the 80’s themed one where every different section had lyrics from 80’s songs as the header? I’m sure those lyrics are the Intellectual property of the artists and they would not appreciate Etsy using them for commercial purposes.

If there was an Etsy Finds Archive anywhere, I’m sure there’d be AT LEAST one every 2 weeks that was full of Trademark/Copyright Infringements.

But none of this is neither here nor there. The bottom line is that unless you understand how trademark infringements work (and don’t bother asking in the forums, trust me, you will get SO MUCH misinformation) you will be left out in the cold. Hopefully you will know (or someone you know will know someone) who is a lawyer who may be able to offer you some un-official legal guidance before you decide if you need to hire someone or if you can file some of the fairly easy paperwork yourself.

Yes, I understand that I put myself in this position by making these mistakes, but each one was an honest mistake. As I said before I don’t re-sell – I make everything myself with own two hands, I don’t sell Hello Kitty (there are currently over 28 thousand listings on Etsy), I don’t sell counterfeit Louis Vuitton (over 3000 listings of LV on Etsy, I’d daresay at least half of them are fake {one of the very first listings on the very first page even says it’s a counterfeit bag} and a third are not vintage NOR handmade – so what are they?!?) but yet Etsy doesn’t care about honest mistakes…

They
Will
Shut
Down
Your
Store

I want to keep selling here on Etsy. I want my shop re-opened so that I can sell through all my inventory.

But I want this to be a lesson to you ALL. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as I have. Diversify. Sell in other places. Put up your own website. Do Craft Shows. Because Etsy CAN and WILL shut down your shop if they decide.

Bottom line – protect yourself. We just bought a house and I lost my main source of income. Be vigilant. Nobody has your back. NOBODY.

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12 thoughts on ““A Lesson in Trademark Infringement”

  1. I was HOPING this was here already! Goddess of Jewelry is not taking this lying down, Cookie is fiiiiiieeeeeerce (yes I’m shaking my finger back and forth while I say that), good for her!!!

  2. Thanks for publishing her entire post before the Etsy censors make it disappear.
    Etsy has no customer service. Not just no phone contact. Nothing. No intelligent life at Etsy HQ.
    Oh, and who else is expecting a massive HUNGER GAMES promo on Etsy when the next film is out?

  3. Thanks for this, RUSEtsy. I’ve learned to screen capture EVERYTHING …. and FILE it, Because Etsy while unbearably slow or negligent.at curtailing obvious resellers from . ( I can type it in caps here …. woot woot) CHINA, they’re supersonic fast at closing shops and muting forum speakers. Yep … really fast. For everyone who is in this battle against Etsy’s draconian and horribly unfair business practices, it is crucial to save and file everything.

    They already remove Treasuries you’ve listed as favorities in YOUR shop files as well as the public listings. They won’t hesitate to hack into anything and everything you have on Etsy. Remember Chad Dickerson is a techie …. not a craftsman. And his eye is on the buck … not the humble Etsian.

    We have to sharpen up and be prepared for an all-out war. Surely there are pro-bono lawyers who will tune in to us.

    We have to speak out … and not run out of fuel . And we have to fuel each other … which is what this great website is doing. Thanks again RUSEtsy ……..

  4. I’ve just actually heard that Etsy Legal has reinstated her shop, but she is now perma muted from the forums. All I can say is congratulations, and if Etsy felt they had to shut her up I at least hope, in “fairness,” they nailed a couple others from the thread who were involved in the “screaming match,” and didn’t solely target her.

  5. Thanks for the update!

    Glad to hear they reinstated her shop; yet, Etsy life will probably not be “easy” for her here on out. I think sometimes Admin gets you in their radar, then they nitpick everything you do. Not surprised at the perma-muting. Yes, I do wonder if there were others who were also muted!

    • I think you’re right, once you’re on the radar they WILL find a reason to either silence you or get rid of you altogether. I didn’t want to start any conspiracies but, I did find it interesting that she had been very vocal during the rape-shirt incident, and then, BAM! Coincidental? Maybe so, but in a matter of days Kalliope’s been silenced, and now GoddessOfJewelry? Maybe I’m connecting my own imaginary dots thanks to my Etsy-Paranoia, but I do believe once you speak out it’s only a matter of time.

  6. Hello, thank you for your wonderful and informative blog!! I have been shut down for a month now over an “alleged” trademark infringement of which I’m certain is nominative fair use. I noticed you were able to get your shop reinstated – very very happy for you!! May ask if you used attorney for help? And if yes, would you mind sharing who it was? My family and myself would be indebted to you for sharing-thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Hello, I wanted to let everyone know thanks to this proactive blog and this post from Goddessof Jewelry, (after almost 7 weeks and a serious loss in $$$) my shop, 7wondersdesign, was re-opened a couple of weeks ago-yea!! Thanks to some INVALUABLE advice given by another Etsian (not sure if they want me to disclose) I contacted the Brands, that said I “allegedly” infringed and told them that I had no intention in doing so and that it was a mistake and would never do it again. I really just pleaded with them and let them know Etsy closes shops down and my family was seriously hurt financially ( we are still recovering due to such loss). If they would please consider removing their infringement notice, I would be beyond grateful. I had one Brand do this for me, and Etsy was responsive and re-opened my shop. It was TRULY a MERRY CHRISTMAS for my family as now we can have a small yet peaceful Christmas 🙂

      I studied the laws for weeks while shut down and had no idea the shear magnitude of the issues surrounding big brands protecting themselves (seemingly at all costs). 2 alleged infringements, were clearly nominative fair use but the brands hire out to do their brand protecting services and use companies that have sophisticated computer programs; “computer robots” or “lawyerbots” that search the web and venues like Etsy and Ebay for their brand name and will send computerized shut down notices, of which I am appalled that they do it that way with Trademark issues especially (all I did was create original artwork that coordinated with the brands decor products and had to refer to their brands items in order to communicate to the customer properly). Think generic printer cartridge that works with HP printer. But brands don’t like it when you use their name at all and will definitely have your listings shut down and Etsy will shut you down too. So to all of you out there trying to make a living to support your family my advice is do not use Brand names at all, not in titles not for your goods or services unless you have a big bank account ready to take them to court.

      I am humbled by the experience, and am working on a new bran name for myself and will open my own website next year to have a backup plan. I wish everyone here a very Happy Holiday and a very prosperous 2014!!

    • Thank you for the information! You are too kind, I just contacted her shop and am waiting for a response. I am beyond disappointed in Etsy’s lack of support for their sellers for these type of issues (albeit sensitive) our cases should be carefully reviewed prior to any shop closure. Our material investment and time, not to mention local micro economies, deserve more respect. It feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach and then left on the curb, not the “community” Etsy portrays to be. Certainly NOT B-Corp behavior. Most shop owners are not familiar with the in’s & out’s of Trademark law (although I am now after studying the laws for 4 weeks). My use was clearly fair use. And, not to mention the Take Down notice was sent by an “automated service” the Brand uses called Mark Monitor. How can they possible have “good faith” if a person is not reviewing the notice (Trademark issues are very subjective) and they’re just sending “automated Take Down notices”? Anyway I won’t ramble on about it here…thank you for your support please wish us luck!

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