Words are now copyrighted?
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 1:37:04 PM
Just received an email from Zazzle stating that a product I've had up for sale for the past 7 years or so contains text that is infringing on someone else's intellectual property.

My shirt had this on the front:

My Yeti Can Beat Up Your Sasquatch

and on the back:

C.I.R.S.
Cryptozoological
Investigative
Research
Society

which is an organizational name that I MADE UP MYSELF....

Are the words Yeti and/or Sasquatch now copyrighted? Did I miss something?

Any answers appreciated;
A very confused Zazzler
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 1:48:02 PM
This thread is in the Pro Sellers section . . . https://forum.zazzle.com/prodesigner/yeti_copyright

If you don't have access to that area the answer is Yes, Yeti is copyrighted by a company that makes coolers in the US, the company name is I believe "Yeti Coolers".
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 1:49:53 PM
Renn_Fare wrote:
Just received an email from Zazzle stating that a product I've had up for sale for the past 7 years or so contains text that is infringing on someone else's intellectual property.

My shirt had this on the front:

My Yeti Can Beat Up Your Sasquatch

and on the back:

C.I.R.S.
Cryptozoological
Investigative
Research
Society

which is an organizational name that I MADE UP MYSELF....

Are the words Yeti and/or Sasquatch now copyrighted? Did I miss something?

Any answers appreciated;
A very confused Zazzler


Someone posted about this in the Pro forum and Christine responded. Sorry but I cannot link to (just on principle because it frustrates those that can't view it), or copy, her post to this because we are not allowed to pull posts from Pro to Public, especially those from Staff or those we didn't personally post.

*just noticed that FNolan posted ahead of me*
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 1:57:22 PM
FNolan wrote:
This thread is in the Pro Sellers section . . . https://forum.zazzle.com/prodesigner/yeti_copyright

If you don't have access to that area the answer is Yes, Yeti is copyrighted by a company that makes coolers in the US, the company name is I believe "Yeti Coolers".


I wonder if I can still use 'abominable snowman' instead? Lord help all the crypto yeti investigators out there.....
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 2:12:17 PM
This copyright and trademark stuff has totally got out of hand. I can see the yeti company being ably to trademark the word as far as cooler companies, but the word itself shouldn't be able to be copyrighted, unless they originally invented the word.
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 2:13:11 PM
In a word, yes. But not copyrighted, Trademarked. There is a difference.

The rule of thumb is that common single words CAN be trademarked and successfully protected *if* the word + goods and services are not related. Think Apple Computers. Apple can stop another computer company from using Apple in their business name but they cannot stop, say, a furniture company from using it i.e. Apple Furniture. And neither company can stop someone on Zazzle from selling a tee shirt with a picture of an apple - the fruit - on it and using "apple" in titles, descriptions and tags.

If you go to United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Search and look up YETI there are quite a few companies that have trademarked the word in the past. Yeti computer software and website design, Yeti non-artificial turf, sod... etc. But Yeti Coolers is registering YETI for a huge swath of goods and services [not just coolers] and is now apparently sending out take down notices. Apparently Z got hit with one such notice.

I think the public needs to know about this and decide if they want to support a company that is doing this with such a common use word, or even prove that this action is overreach and not at all what a trademark is for. Renn_Fare, can you respond to the take down email from Zazzle and ask to see the actual letter from Yeti coolers? Maybe we can make a game plan. Getting the word out during the Pi debacle worked... maybe we can do it again.
Posted: Thursday, June 02, 2016 6:48:48 PM
Connie wrote:
This copyright and trademark stuff has totally got out of hand. I can see the yeti company being ably to trademark the word as far as cooler companies, but the word itself shouldn't be able to be copyrighted, unless they originally invented the word.


I totally agree
Posted: Friday, June 03, 2016 12:31:14 AM
I would file a lawsuit, but, no doubt, the inclusion of the word "Yeti" (henceforth referred to only as the White Himalayan Squatchy Primate) in legal documents would in itself be considered a copyright violation inviting a counter suit.
Posted: Friday, June 03, 2016 2:56:52 AM
I've been rendered nearly speechless. In the future, it will be completely speechless, since business will have copyrighted/trademarked all language.
Posted: Friday, June 03, 2016 3:12:54 AM
You may leave your thoughts on the Facebook page of White Himalayan Squatchy Primate coolers here: https://www.facebook.com/yeti/

Or send a nastygram via email here: customerservice@yeticoolers.com
Posted: Friday, June 03, 2016 5:54:58 AM
Renn_Fare wrote:
Just received an email from Zazzle stating that a product I've had up for sale for the past 7 years or so contains text that is infringing on someone else's intellectual property.

My shirt had this on the front:

My Yeti Can Beat Up Your Sasquatch

and on the back:

C.I.R.S.
Cryptozoological
Investigative
Research
Society

which is an organizational name that I MADE UP MYSELF....

Are the words Yeti and/or Sasquatch now copyrighted? Did I miss something?

Any answers appreciated;
A very confused Zazzler


Yes they can but not owned exclusively. I agree with Artofvickie's post she is totally accurate on how this works.


It is a shame and total disparate treatment to take down products that have absolutely nothing to do with this companies trademark. Think about it.. how many common names do you know that are businesses in your state alone? Example I gave at the other thread "Bob's" or Franks, or Johnnie's, Taylors on and on. From automotive to food, art supplies you name it. Same goes for common words like animals, objects, even entire State names like California you cannot monopolize any of these.. How hard is that to understand?

This would never get into a courtroom. It is all bullying and lawyers giving out bogus information to these companies they scout by seeing who is getting new trademarks.
Posted: Saturday, June 04, 2016 10:44:56 AM
Renn_Fare wrote:
Just received an email from Zazzle stating that a product I've had up for sale for the past 7 years or so contains text that is infringing on someone else's intellectual property. ...

My sympathy -- and empathy -- goes out to you. If I had a nickel for every time this sort of thing has happened to me in the past, etc., etc.

Yes, trademarking of individual words goes far beyond any reasonableness (er, reasonability?).

Case in point: Did you know you can't legally use the word "caution" in your T-shirt designs? There's a... "gentleman" (that's not the word I'm thinking of, but it's the word I'd best use in public) by the name of Jim Vitello who has trademarked the word "caution," and who, to my knowledge, has never actually produced any products using the word, but appears (repeat: "appears") to use his trademark solely as an excuse to sue everyone who uses the word "caution" in any way, shape or form.***

To wit: http://www.adrforum.com/domaindecisions/159460.htm -- in which Mr. Vitello filed a complaint against the owner of the domain name "caution.com". (Happily, "the relief sought in the Complaint {was} DENIED.")

What really chaps my hide is when somebody trademarks a word, phrase or image long after it has entered common usage. I (and other designers) made a good chunk of change with the phrase "Dog is my co-pilot" well before it was trademarked by "The Bark Magazine" -- which then decided to go after anyone using this phrase. (For this reason, I will always remember "The Bark Magazine" -- and not with fondness. To put it mildly.)

Similarly, I made a series of designs (that sold well) based on images from a certain popular film that had long ago fallen into the public domain. I did my homework; as long as I was using images taken directly from a 16mm (or larger) print, I was well within my legal rights.

All was good until I received a takedown notice years later. In short, the film was still in the public domain -- and to this day, anyone still has the right to copy, distribute, and/or even sell the film in any format -- but somebody decided to create a series of action figures based on this film, and quickly trademarked the characters in the film. Bye-bye, designs.

Here's another one: I used an often-seen public-domain image for a series of greeting cards. All was good... until a large, well-known non-profit trademarked the image -- thereby, I suppose, taking it out of the public domain. How this could be, I do not know, as the non-profit did not make one, single change to the image. (I could, perhaps, see being able to trademark an altered image, but the image was in no way altered.) So long, greeting cards!

I have many more examples, but you get the picture.

Is any of this fair? Heck, no. Is there anything any of us can do about it? Heck, no -- unless you want to start lobbying your congresscritters to reform a trademark system run amok.

Meanwhile, my only advice is to keep this link bookmarked and at the ready:

http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4804:3t61nh.1.1

JR @ Inkopelli(TM)

*** Disclaimer: The above is solely my impression of the situation; Mr. Vitello may have commenced producing actual, tangible products at some point -- although I have never seen a one. Meanwhile, I have never had any contact with Mr. Vitello; I have never been a target of Mr. Vitello's; nor do I have any direct knowledge of Mr. Vitello's activities or intentions, about anything. Mr. Vitello may be the Second Coming of You-Know-Who, for all I know -- so take my words with a grain of salt... and verify for yourself.
Posted: Saturday, June 04, 2016 10:59:51 AM
I agree. It's totally ridiculous. And totally out of hand. I had to change two of my designs, thanks to this cooler company and the ones who allowed this trademark to go through. It's all about the money (isn't it always) because obviously our designs had nothing to do with their "brand", and I use that term loosely here. What's next?!
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