Idea

newuser-3bd8aa6e-0f6d-4325-bbc1-a5c3da4d96b5 avatar image

We should have a way as a group to challenge recent trademarks of already in use popular phrases, as this kills creativity on the platform.

When a Merch seller or anyone for that matter can run and trademark an already in use popular phrase in a niche, this kills creativity as their shirts are now the only ones allowed/available on the platform with that particular phrase. Other creators can no longer create for that niche even though it may have deep emotional meaning to them. The trademark owner's interpretation is the only one that will be available to potential buyers, thereby limiting choice. People will go to other platforms to seek other and more varied creative representations of that phrase.

merch by amazon
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Amazon Warrior avatar image
Amazon Warrior commented

No matter how much I agree with your assessment of people trademarking ridiculous things, Amazon can't and won't break the law and allow you to contest a registered trademark. While I can appreciate that it is frustrating that this is actually happening, Amazon is only following trademark law by removing the infringing listing. Merch by Amazon and Amazon itself have nothing to do with making the law. The correct forum to fight these issues is with the United States Trademark office.

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ScottFromWyoming avatar image
ScottFromWyoming commented

Can you give an example? I think trademarks can be expensive to establish and defend/maintain, especially if the phrase is already in circulation. I'm curious about what phrases would merit the effort. Especially if the person applying for protection is not the originator of the phrase. (Note: I am not arguing your point, I just can't think of any examples offhand that I can study & learn from). Thanks!

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While I can give an example, I will refrain from doing so, as I think signaling out a particular seller or niche would be counterproductive as the issue is bigger than any one person or niche.

But they are not hard to find and it will come to your attention and hit you like a ton of bricks and you will understand 100% when one of your shirts in a niche you really care about is removed and you can no longer design for it.

On the contrary, we are in agreement. A trademark is indeed expensive to establish, defend, and maintain. And I am talking only about phrases the person is not the originator of, that are already in widespread use, though they may be new trends. My point is we as a group need to challenge these trademarks by forcing them to defend it.

It doesn't make sense for 1 day for there to be hundreds or even thousands of creators designing shirts with a phrase that is already in widespread use and then the next day or month for only 1 person to legally have the right to have that shirt up, and for everyone else's to be removed, And you have no hope of designing a shirt with that phrase again even though it may mean something to you. The person trademarking it may or may not even have an emotional attachment to that phrase. For them it may strictly be business, but now everyone else is barred from designing for it, even those for whom the phrase may have some deeper meaning. That's the emotional side. But I also don't think it makes good business sense to have only one person/seller's creative interpretation of such a phrase available. Also, this puts other phrases in that particular niche at risk as well. What if a niche only has a few, let's say 5 popular phrases in it and 1 is allowed to be trademarked. Let's say panic leads to the other 4 phrases also being trademarked. This puts everyone except for those holding the trademarks out of business in that niche.

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newuser-1dea743b-2c9b-45e8-bdc4-4ee37c97d8bd avatar image
newuser-1dea743b-2c9b-45e8-bdc4-4ee37c97d8bd commented

Well Amazon wouldn't be removing designs for no reason. It's too bad they don't give any feedback about specifically why a design is taken down or rejected from review. I don't think they should permanently ban accounts for a small amount of potentially infringing designs. Pixel copies yes, but not these grey area designs that probably are actually ok legally.

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Maverick Merchant avatar image
Maverick Merchant commented

There is a Facebook group that has been set up to combat this Trademark abuse www.facebook.com/groups/349309345269028/ and there is also someone who is setting things in motion to notify their congress member of the situation whereby USPTO are approving as Trademarks many words/phrases which do not fall under TM law. However, from Merch point of view, if the USPTO has granted a TM for a common phrase they have to abide by it.

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Thanks for your answer and it's great to know about this group and that there is someone working on it. But in view of the magnitude of this problem, I wonder why I've never heard about these efforts in these forums. Are creators unaware of how huge this problem is and the risks it poses? Is the person working on this having to "go it alone"?

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Carrie H. avatar image
Carrie H. commented

You can already do this through the trademark site

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But, you have to pay $300+ for the privilege of opposing an application which should never have been passed by an examiner. Unfortunately, many of them appear to be incompetent to do the job they are paid for.

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