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Digital Design Passive Income

Passive Income Designing SVGs - Trademark and Copyright

by Tanya McCarthy 19 Jun 2019

You may be wondering about what types of files you are going to design while creating your first shop. When I first started one of my first designs was a Batman Birthday Family Shirt... EPIC FAIL! You see things like Batman, Marvel, DC, Disney, ect are all TRADEMARKED.

What does this mean? It means you cannot recreate their brand and sell it for profit. Often time I get the response of Well I see other shops on Etsy doing it, so why can't I?

The reality of the situation is there are 100s of shops that get shut down daily due to copyright and trademark infringement. In some cases, people even lose everything they have, being sued by the person who owns the trademark and then paying taxes on top of everything else. 

Check out these Articles here:

Taylor Swift for "Shake it Off" takedowns on Etsy

Etsy User Sued Over Beer Eye Chart

So Let's get into it. 

Here is a TON of information on trademarks and its associated FAQ on the USPTO website. I recommended reading through some of these to understand what EXACTLY a trademark is. 

There are a lot of TMs out there that are just plain ridiculous. There is a group on Facebook to help fight the good fight and get them removed. You can join us here at this link.  The group is also really good about helping with items you have questions on if you think there MAY be a TM on a product. 

You can utilize the TESS search for Trademarks when designing your products. Obviously you can assume the more common ones like Disney and the like. 


For example I know that Live, Laugh Love has a trademark. 

I go to the Search and Type in Live, Laugh, Love and Click "Live"

When I get to the search there are several results I need to go through

Sadly, there is no easy way to do this and you have to go through each one with your search terms. I'm sure there is an easier way to accomplish this, but this is how I do it. Google searching the TESS database and I'm sure you can find some other tips and tricks. 

I finally find one with a Standard Character Mark for shirts and items like this, which means I DO NOT want to make this file. People would use the file for their products which could include T-shirts, meaning Etsy could shut my shop down. 

I'm sure as time goes on I will get faster at searching these, but I do ensure before every design is created I do a TESS search to ensure I am not breaking any rules. The last thing I want is my 300+ designs and hard work to go crumbling in front of my eyes. 

So Remember these keys facts when designing 

  • Create all of your files from scratch -- This means you have NO chance of infringing on someone's art work.
  • If you are using quotes and phrases, be sure to check the TESS database
  • Ensure your terms are in your item description - i.e. if it's personal or commercial use (more on this in another post)
  • Do not just grab images off of Google and trace or clean them up, that's stealing
  • Do not buy a bunch of files off of Etsy, DB, FB or other places and sell them as your own. You can view a post on DB about acceptable uses of licenses for POD which is VERY informative and should also apply to your digital products

I can go on and on, later I will make a post about Dos and Don'ts of selling digital designs which will go in to a lot more detail on what's right and wrong.

If you would like to read more about TM and CR infringement and how you can be more informed please visit this link by Holly Pixels.  

If you have any questions please feel free to post them below! As always if you're looking for live updates from my blog signup for the newsletter or join my Facebook group. 



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