Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Business Matters - Part 8 - Trademark frustrations

For my "business matters" post today, I thought I'd share with you my frustrations re. a Trademark infringement idiocy that happened this week.

On Friday, I got an email from the administration at Dawanda telling me that they had been informed that "some of my articles may be in breach of the copyright of a protected brand......In the worst case scenario the owner of the brand may initiate legal actions against you". Dawanda had been asked to remove these items.

Naturally this was of great concern to me. I don't want to have any copyright or trademark issues with any of my products. But it took a while for me to figure out what it was all about.....

I won't name the trademark company here specifically as I don't want to catch their attention....again..... - but I'll spell it incorrectly so you can understand what I am talking about. Instead of an "IE" at the end of the word, please read it as "EY". So the trademark company that claimed that I "was in breach of their rights" was smilie - with the altered spelling.

I eventually found two items I had listed on Dawanda that they were taking exception too. One was the "Matt and Ted sheep earrings" and the other was the "Trotter the pig" charm. Now, these pieces do not look in anyway like their smilie and have nothing to do with them at all, but in my description of these items of jewelry, I wrote something like "and they have such cute smilie faces" (with the other spelling) - as both pieces are little animals and I had put expressions on their faces, as the photos show. Now the word (with the amended spelling) smilie is a word in the English dictionary, it is an adjective of "smile" and so I was describing that my sculpted animals basically have smiles on their faces. It was just a cute way to describe them....

But apparently The S Company have decided that they can trademark a single work in the English language and stop anyone else using it ! How ridiculous is that? My use of the word was perfectly correct - there was nothing wrong in what I did yet now I have changed my descriptions because I don't want any hassle. OK -it makes no difference to substitute "smiles on their faces" but I really want to leave the word in the description as I have nothing to be ashamed of, yet I just don't want to risk repercussions. And so the company wins! How stupid is that!

So - sorry! This posting has turned more into a venting than a "business matters" - but I tell the tale to let you all know how silly this trademark situation is getting where companies can choose a word in general use as their trademark and threaten to sue anyone else who uses that word in any business related activity at all. How I wish I could be bothered to fight it. And what about "smilie's people" the book by John Le Carre - what happens to that? Maybe we should re-write the dictionary and take out the word smilie so no-one uses it and therefore doesn't get sued?????

And then you get to thinking about the man-power that this company uses to search for people to sue. Here were two pieces of jewelry of mine, listed on an artist's marketplace. This "bad" word was not a tag, nor meta-tag, nor title, it didn't begin with a capitalized letter.... - just one word in the middle of a description. Gosh - to find it seems amazing to me. How much are they spending on employing people to search for the word? Is their sole business suing "offenders" who dare to use the word????


tangled stitch said...

Well I think the animals have wonderful smiles(does smiles have a trademark too?). Don't worry! Be happy and smile like the cute little creatures instead of the mean old smilies!

Ruth said...

Yes! Smile and move on!

Nicola said...

Yes the world has gone mad, this is just another proof of it!
Nicola x

Beaded Zen said...

wow! Sorry you had to go thru that. I agree that it's crazy they made a cases over using a "word" to describe YOUR item. The things large companies spend time over...picking on the little folks