Trademark infringement can carry some heavy repercussions, and yet a lot of people do it. I see cases of trademark infringement everyday while perusing Etsy. Here's the scoop: You put your Etsy shop at risk of being completely shut down if you use trademarked content on anything you create, unless you have purchased the rights to use the trademarked content or received permission from the trademark owner to use the trademarked content. In most cases, this is unattainable for a small shop owner. However, if you decide to use the trademarked content any way, you are guilty of trademark infringement, and Etsy does not take trademark infringement lightly.
A trademark can be a number of things, from a business logo, or a slogan, to a mascot, or even a simple word, such as "popsicle", and if you use a trademark on anything you create and sell, you are at risk. You risk the removal of any of your listings which Etsy feels are infringing on a trademark, you risk the integrity of your shop, you risk your shop being completely suspended and shut down, and you also risk legal actions against you. Tell me, is using trademarked content worth losing your shop over?
I have witnessed several occurrences where an Etsy shop has been shut down for trademark infringement. It is a very real thing, and it could happen to you if you are infringing on a trademark. In order to prevent infringing on a trademark, I suggest you do a little research. A simple trademark search using the USPTO Trademark Database, will give you the information you need in order to make a decision about whether or not you can use a logo, a slogan, a mascot, or a popular word or phrase. When in doubt, check it out!
Here are the top 5 trademark infringements among Etsy sellers:
1. Disney Characters
If you are selling Disney princess birthday party invitations, shirts with embroidered Mickey ears, drink glasses with Disney wording on them, or anything Disney related really, then you are are infringing on Disney's trademarks.
The word "Onesie" is a registered trademark of Gerber. Yes, really. The use of the word Onesie anywhere on your shop listing is a big no-no. If you sell these cute little one piece outfits, you should consider calling them "body suits" instead.
3. Major League Sports: Logos, Mascots, and Slogans
If you thought about adding a shirt to your shop that says, "Go Cubs!", think again. Sports teams logos, mascots AND slogans, are off limits.
Yeah, just like Disney Characters, Superheros are also trademarked.
Yes, those cute little square blankies with ribbon loops around the edge. The Taggies company has a trademark on the name "Taggies", as well as a patent on "looped ribbon sewn between two pieces of fabric". So not only is it prohibited to use the term "Taggies" in your shop listing, it is also prohibited to create and sell anything similar to a Taggies blanket. From what I understand, the Taggies company is very diligent on finding infringing shop owners.
This is only a fraction of the trademark infringement among Etsy sellers, but I'd be here all day if I listed every example trademark infringement. Like I said before, if you aren't sure whether or not a slogan, mascot, or word is trademarked, run a quick search!
Have a question about trademark infringement? Drop it in the comments below!