Quite excitingly, I opened up an Etsy shop a few months ago. Still awaiting my first sale, I’ve been slowly working out the bugs, getting the perfect banner, and making things to put up for sale in between what seems like a million other commitments.
Unfortunately, I received a rather unkind e-mail about my shop last week. Apparently there is another knitter using the name HandmadeHandsome and this person assumed and then accused me of, in no uncertain terms, copying her. She demanded that I change my shop name and banner, and suggested that I change my blog name, and everywhere else that I use HandmadeHandsome.
Obviously, we were both rather upset. The chances are rather slim that two knitters would think of the same name independently of each other, but that’s just what happened as I’ve not copied her in any way. Even after the accusations, I had quite a hard time finding her shop to see what she was talking about let alone finding it months ago and then copying it! (Somehow she seemed to know everything I’d ever put on the internet and was able to tell me when I started using HandmadeHandsome on each website and suggested names from my other user names for me to use instead! Proving the point that you shouldn’t put things on the internet if you wouldn’t want anyone to see it and use it against you!)
But what are the Etsy rules and regulations and general regulations for copying and copying accusations? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this happen to, so I’d like to provide a guide for those who feel they have been copied and those who have been accused. Clearly, I’m not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice in this post.
An Etsy admin suggested the following links for their suggestions regarding copyright disputes:
There is also a good article at the Radical Cross Stitch blog about crafting and the Creative Common Licensing, if interested
Etsy states that copying disputes are private and should be worked out between the two parties in question, unless one party wants to report it (see the how-to above.)
But basically, from what other users have said, and from what I know about copyright/ trademark law, admittedly not much, no one is under any obligation to change their shop name, or any other name for that matter, unless one person has a registered trademark.
Furthermore, copyright legislation indicates that as soon as you create something, you have the copyright for that object. So if there is someone with the exact object you designed in their shop, that’s a case for a copying dispute for sure.
The issue between me and this person is that we both came up with the name independently and we both happen to sell knitwear. A crazy coincidence that in other circumstances I would have hoped would have ended in a friendship, but nonetheless it is quite troubling for building a business. We sell quite different knitted items and patterns, she sells rather chic, cleanly designed accesseories, and I have a glove pattern with skulls on.
We ended up working it out, as I was planning on changing my shop name anyway and agreed to change the name and banner. I also rather desperately and cowardly wanted to be left alone so it seemed like the best option.
In such a dispute, I would encourage everyone to maintain a level head and remember what Etsy and knitting are all about– community! Remember that there is another human being on the other end of the e-mail and try to work things out as amicably as possible. Treat others as you would like to be treated, but yet, on a less biblical theme and in the words of my favourite aunt, “there are assholes everywhere, and you can’t get away from them all.”