July 19, 2016

Learning a Lesson Through Trademark


     Today, I mourn a loss.  Not a human or pet loss, but that of a beloved product.  You see my friends; I made a grave error of not understanding.  I made an error against TRADEMARK!  Who knew-really, WHO KNEW!  But, let’s go through what I’ve learned! 

     First, although I have been on TpT now for almost 4 years (gasp-how!) I have never taken it very serious (see my last post on MINDSET!)   I really haven’t!  I’ve created out of necessity or out of fun.  That’s how I started offering classroom décor.  I LOVE scrapbooking and I totally thought that creating décor was the same as scrapbooking-and, in so many ways, it is!  So I started with Focus Walls!  And they sold, and sold, and sold!  That’s when I thought I’d do a Star Wars one.  I found cute clipart-on TpT- and bam-sold!  I found other sellers offering Star Wars materials and thought, “I could do that!”  Do you see the error?  I just followed other sellers.  I figured as long as I called it “themed” I was fine, right.  I mean, everyone else was doing it! 

     Then I attended the TpT Conference.  The first few people I mentioned Star Wars to seemed to be startled and then they just carried on.  No one could really explain to me WHY they were startled.  It just seemed taboo. Ok, well, I was fine right!?!  Then I overheard a conversation on TRADEMARK!   I was at the tail end of it, so I didn’t get the whole conversation.  The seller explained to me that she had taken down a Polar Express item because she had made an item that violated the TRADEMARK established by the author!  REALLY, I thought!  But yes, his title and all things involved with The Polar Express, belong to him and if you violate that trademark, TpT will deliver to you a cease and desist letter!  HOLY COW!  I verbalized, “Well, then I’ll take it down when I get one.”  Which she so wisely replied, “They only give you three chances and then they take your store totally down!”  I think she knew by my face EXACTLY what I was thinking because she replied, “I was new once too.  I’ve made lots of mistakes!”  The saddest part was, I walked away thinking everything would be ok. 

     Well, that’s not me.  It ate at me.  It picked at me.  Why in the WORLD did I think that I could just pretend I didn’t hear her!  Today, while reading for my upcoming Bible Study, it really struck home-I was becoming a slave to the very thing I didn’t want to be a slave to-money and sales!  Even though I am now more serious about sales and that this is money, I don’t want to do it without integrity.  So, you know what I did next, I went to the TpT Forums!  Yep, even though they make me jittery because of the endless threads and the not so direct answers, I went!  And there, I found some basic information on Trademark.   I was in my right mind enough to know to go to the website provided and do a search!  HOLY GOOD GOLLY!  Again, not as easy as it should be.  But there it was, in black and white, the endless list of words that show that Star Wars is trademarked, and out of my store!  I began deleting like crazy.  Here is what I did.

1.  I deleted everything but my bundles, as I know that some people might need to download that as they were growing bundles. 

2. I went into these products, edited them,  and posted a notice in the update area to ask people to download, as I will be deleting them.

3.  I priced the bundles at a ridiculous amount and changed the product description to this:

At this time this product is only still available for buyers that need to update.  I am removing this product on 7/20/16 due to a new understanding of trademark.  I am willingly doing this to comply with laws and standards, including those of TpT.  I haven't been asked, I just want to have integrity in my store.  That is why this is priced at it's current price-so I don't sell any of these but allow time for buyers to receive what they have already purchased.  Thanks!

4.  I went to the old dashboard and chose  “See Your Sales and Transactions”.  I made a spreadsheet by clicking at the bottom where it says to make it in Excel.  This is so I have a record of all the sales I have made so that if someone contacts me, I can figure out something  or some way to get them their purchase.  I can verify that the purchase was made because I put in a date well BEFORE the items were sold. 

5.  Then I cried!  Yes, I cried!  That was so much work, so much love, so much put into that product line!  I mean, I LOVE those products.  I’m a complete nerd.  But that love cannot override the right thing to do.  The risk is not worth it.  I still don’t really understand the whole process, but I feel safer to know that the risk is gone.  Now, if only I could get rid of all those Pinterest pins that are floating around!  (I have deleted all that are on my boards and have deleted as people repin from other sites!  It may take years!)

One more thought, I REALLY thought it would greatly affect my sales.  On the new dashboard it has deleted the profit.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  What did that teach me-that I’m a better seller than my Star Wars line.  That I am succeeding at this thing called TpT!  Slowly but surely! 

     Please share any other information you have on trademark, as I'm still not exactly sure of everything I need to know!  Or, share a story you have in the comments below!  


JanCT said...

Thanks for sharing and for reminding us all that integrity needs to be more important than everything else!
Laughter and Consistency

Julie Santello said...

Thank you for your comment. It was a hard thing to do because of the amount of time and energy, but the peace of mind is so worth it!

Julie Santello said...

Thank you for your comment. It was a hard thing to do because of the amount of time and energy, but the peace of mind is so worth it!