Defending Your Intellectual Property on POD Platforms

POD Weekly #56

Defending Your Intellectual Property on POD Platforms



Defending your IP on POD Platforms

Your ideas are your business. For anyone that relies on POD income, the question of the benefits and drawbacks to spending time defending Intellectual Property is an important one. If you are a member of the various Facebook POD groups, or similar communities, you’ve likely seen this debate play out numerous times.



Time is the most important asset that we have in life, and certainly that applies to your POD business as well. Time spent chasing and reporting copycats is time not spent doing research, designing, listing, finding Virtual Assistants, or learning. Is the time spent defending your Intellectual Property (IP) worthwhile?


The tipping point

It seems likely that if you make a majority of your income from a small handful of designs, that it will be worthwhile to vigorously defend the related IP – but as you add designs to your portfolio, you will eventually come to a point where you will either need to outsource the work, or cut back on time spent investigating and reporting infringement.


Inviting Payback

It’s a very unfortunate aspect of today’s POD platforms. Heated competition drives unscrupulous sellers to use IP as a weapon against competitors. This can take the form of retaliation on your brand as a result of reporting others’ copies of your work. Even more unfortunately, some sellers have been known to issue first-strike illegitimate takedowns of other works in their favorite niches.


What’s your strategy

I’ve spoken to sellers who vigorously, repeatedly defend their IP, spending time daily protecting their portfolio. Other successful sellers have stated that they never bother defending their IP, rather spending that time keeping the ball moving forward, finding new niches to move into and endeavoring to constantly create new designs. Both strategies have salient points, your particular strategy will depend on your business model. If you’re a solo designer, it may make sense to ignore the copycats and keep moving forward onto new things. On the other hand, if you have just a handful of sellers pumping up your sales numbers, it surely makes sense to at least keep an eye out for pixel-for-pixel (p4p) copies of your bestsellers.


For MBA Sellers

An important hint regarding Merch By Amazon’s IP infringement notification form: Once you submit your first infringement report, you will shortly receive an email from MBA asking for more information. A lot of this info will simply be repeating what you submitted in the original form. It’s critical to reply, providing all of the info that you can, and most importantly to provide the code they give you – this will help them to process all of your information together. You only need to perform this confirmation step once (provided you are successful) – your subsequent infringement reports via the web form will not necessitate the second step via email. Typically, MBA will respond and remove legitimate copies in one or two days.


If reporting to MBA, it’s important that the works you are reporting are legitimately copies of your work in MBA’s eyes. By rule, this means a pixel for pixel copy of your copyrighted (but not trademarked) works. If you invented a phrase but haven’t trademarked it, you do not own that phrase. You only own your exact design. If you own a trademark, MBA will of course want to know, and this gives you much more latitude in defending your work.


Making The Decision

Every individual will have to make a calculated decision whether to ignore copyright infringers, or to defend their intellectual property. Keep in mind though, that if you aren’t posting your designs on a given platform, there is a good chance someone else is – and benefiting off of your work.



Each week, we share content from a variety of sources intended to help print-on-demand sellers. Get even more links by following us on Facebook or Twitter


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One reply on “Defending Your Intellectual Property on POD Platforms

  • Patrick McCormack

    One thing I like to always do is to leave my signature somewhere in the design. There are some creative ways you can implement your signature. This can help expedite the infringement report process in my experience.


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