Ebay trademark violation issue

If you are worried about infringement or your work has been copied and you want to take action.
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bbloke
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Ebay trademark violation issue

Post by bbloke » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:22 pm

Hi,

I sell badges on eBay. I've just had a listing removed for Trademark violation.

There's a lot of traders dealing in copyright/trademark infringing items on there, but I work very hard to ensure I'm not one of them! However, in this case I'm not quite sure if I'm very close to the line or over it, so to speak.

The badge consists of a slogan from a television comedy programme, which I shall call X. The listing title and description say that the badge is 'inspired by X".

I checked on the IPO website and while X is a trademark, it is NOT registered as a trademark for the category of item I'm selling, namely button badges. Additionally, the slogan on the badge is not trademarked at all.

With regard to copyright of the slogan, I'm under the impression that short phrases are not generally considered unique enough to be covered by copyright law.

My partner thinks I should contest the listing removal, but to be frank it's only a single listing out of hundreds and I've not even sold any, so it's probably not worth bothering. However, I still would like to know where I stand.

Any help much appreciated!

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:37 pm

Hi bbloke,
Based on what you've said, I agree with you that there don't seem to be genuine grounds for removing your eBay listing.
The 'inspired by' bit in your description may well be the thing the TV company are upset about. It doesn't sound like passing off as such, but you are clearly aiming to get some spin-off benefit from the reputation of the TV show so it might have been better to leave that out.
On the copyright issue, as you say a short catchphrase ought not attract copyright, unless it is very creative and distinctive. There have been cases in the US where jokes from a comedian's routine have been found to have copyright, but in this case I think the TV company are trying it on.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

bbloke
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Post by bbloke » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:58 pm

Hi AndyJ

Thanks for your quick response and your help!

Mulling this over during the afternoon, I came to the same conclusion. I'm not quite sure why I used the phrase 'inspired by X' at all. I've previously avoided such terms precisely because of my concerns over listings being over-enthusiastically removed by eBay. I shan't be listing the item again.

I am a little concerned that the production company might try and take further action. I shall just have to wait and see.

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