All the fuss is quieting down. Zazzlers applaud zazzle for reinstating all Pi-Shirts and „taking a stand“ underneath their statement „RE: Pi Trademark “ on the Pi incident in the forum. My neck hair curls with each „Well done“ OMG it is good and nice that zazzle corrected their mistake in short time and did it swiftly by reinstating all Pi shirts even those, that pose a risk to be mistaken with the trademark and that could be construed as a willful infringement. Risk of „Willful infringement“ was the reason given by zazzle for their radical action, an action that affected designer worldwide. Zazzle deactivated by keyword removing far, far more than neccessary not only in the US where the trademark is valid but shirts were deactivated worldwide.
The law turns private-sector service providers like zazzle (google, apple, etc.) into de-facto regulators, who can’t provide due process or implement the law correctly.
The fact that zazzle is not distinguishing in the publishing tools between countries poses a problem for German zazzlers. US zazzlers get a cost free warning if there is a problem with US trademarks. Germans get a cease&desist that costs money without prior warning, assuming a willful infringment from the start. Germans pay even for frivolous claims if they can’t afford to hire a lawyer or can afford a laywer but get a judge annoyed with trademark nuisances and rule splitting costs for the dispute and there are plenty of 1€ UG (cheap form of a Ltd.) with bogus trademarks that view the German trademark register as their new personal money printer. They invest very little for their limited liability and flud costly cease&desist notifications on unsuspecting freelancers. These UGs become the laywers best friends.
Now! Why is zazzles way of publishing a problem? Many don’t realize, that opening an account on zazzle.com automatically opens this account on any and all zazzle sites all over the world. Most freelancer don’t distinguish enough between who offers and sells the customized items. Their misconception makes freelancer, putting their design on zazzle, vulnerable to legitimate and frivolous claims. Since zazzle translates automatically, the freelancer might not even be responsible for using a term protected by trademark.
On the other hand, if in the US someone files a claim concerning a US trademark against zazzle and zazzle sees the need to act fast they go overboard and retract items unaffected by the claim due to unrelated content as well as by areas in which the claim is invalid. Retracting all these items among them good selling ones and or with a solid link history hurts the freelancers income.
Zazzle has a risky way of implentation by not offering the option to exclude countries to avoid trademark claims and hurts freelancers by pulling too much, pulling items for no good reason.
This is hardly a good reason to applaud zazzle. A simple thank you for rectifying their mistake in the first place will suffice.
As for zazzlers living in Germany, receiving a cease&desist, called Abmahnung, remember you don’t sell anything to customers in Germany via zazzle, zazzle sells. You sold the right to use your design on a sale to sale basis to zazzle in the US. Refer them to zazzle and it helps to open your account on zazzle.com on principle, thereby moving the administration of your designs to the US, too.
On a closing note. Let’s enjoy zazzle and hope that judges realize, that the limitation of trademarks need to be redefined.
Pi is Pi not a trademark. Our language, our words are a means to express ourselfs they are not trademarks. Common icons have a cultural history, transport messages based in their cultural history, they are not trademarks. A paw print ia a paw print, a styalized laurel wraith is a styalized laurel wraith. In most cases the perception is that of the generic. Trademarks is like an iceberg, its only the small top in the publics eye. The rest is hidden underneath the water and has no effect on the perception. There is no confusion with the trademark, since the trademark is only known to the register and a few friends of the trademark owner. It is high time, that this is understood and taken into account with trademarks. Let’s get rid of the trademark trolls.
Follow up and a closing word to Zazzle plays blind justice with Pi-Shirts and the Pi-scandal.