I use to get really upset when I’d see people using the unique quotes I made for my apparel company on their items. Etsy, Amazon, their own memes, various products all over the internet – there was no line they wouldn’t cross if they could make a profit. It has gotten so bad since I sold out over two years ago that a person who use to get mad at others for stealing their “ideas” and had “Integrity” tattooed on their body stole my stuff. Because, integrity.
Years later, people still use, steal, infringe. I am thankful I no longer own the company, but it made me realize that I should have taken more steps to protect my work – including my unique words.
So I speak from a little experience …
Trademarks In An Apparel-Crazy World
When I sold my company Teespring was on the rise. No one had really come into my industry from the outside, yet. It wasn’t long until people realized that they could make shirts, pop them online and make a buck. It also wasn’t long until they were stealing designs, pixel for pixel, and popping them on a shirt for sale. I spent about a hour a day sending take down notices to Teespring and other third-party vendors with links to my designs and proof that I had originated that graphic. And then I sold.
Since then the new owner hasn’t defended the work I created. But I’m not the only one.
If you haven’t heard of Merch by Amazon, you’re about to learn about something that is a GAME changer.
Of course websites like Etsy, Teespring and Facebook have paved a golden road for thousands of designers, but nothing like Merch by Amazon. With their traffic and millions already searching for niche products, Merch by Amazon has become a tool that anyone with a computer or even a design app on their mobile phone can use to make mint.
What does that have to do with Trademarks?
Well, there are literal screenshots of people overseas in countries like the Philippines, India and others who have posted their strategies in Facebook groups.
Basically it goes like this..
- Find an item that is selling in the top 1000 on Amazon (merch).
- File for a trademark on their popular and unique phrase.
- Download their design and copy it, pixel for pixel.
- Wait for the trademark and then file against the original designer.
- When the design is removed, upload the original creators pixel for pixel copy and make some cash.
If you think it can’t be done, take some time digging around on Trademarkia. Those popular phrases you’ve seen over the last two years or so – like What’s your Superpower – trademarked. And you know that Mama Bear phrase that has been around and around this past year? Well, there’s so many people filing for trademarks that half of them have suspension notices or oppositions pending against them.
It’s not going to stop at apparel. I foresee a future where Trademarks are a valuable as domains and licensing is an even bigger business than it is already.
If you love it, Trademark it.
If you wake up tomorrow with an amazing idea for your biz or shirt business or slogan and you are going to put in 300% to make it common, you better get a Trademark on that thing. No joke. One of the first podcast episodes we’re going to have on Let’s Get Niched is going to feature a mama who had an amazing business going until a squatter came in behind her and stole her business by filing for a mark.
She didn’t have a product. She had a SERVICE and just like that, she had to pack up and walk away. She’s not the first friend that had this happen. You might have heard about the Honest Toddler and Honest Company squabble a few years ago. The difference there is that Bunmi had trademarked Honest Toddler when it started to gain popularity. My other friend wasn’t so lucky.
It’s time to start building barriers around the things we love, people. I am sorry, but it’s true. Gone are the days of honest business people. Today’s world is all about ruthless and dirty competitors, even if you don’t believe it. Watch for the podcast episode when we talk to business owners who have endured trademark squatters.
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