February 29, 2012

Does Etsy Condone Trademark Violation?

So, if you haven't heard, the Navajo Nation is suing Urban Outfitters over product names (read more here and here). I completely support the Navajo Nation on this one (it's straight up trademark violation in my eyes) and I'm interested to see how Urban Outfitters responds.

Well, when I heard about this lawsuit, I remembered that a high number of "Navajo" products were being sold on Etsy (3,503 items, to be exact).

So I went on to Etsy to take a closer look at them, and, I'll be danged, I found this:

On Etsy's front page featured list was a 'Navajo' purse that was 'handpicked' by 'Demi and Dean' (who are artists based out of California). The purse is not made by a Navajo artist.

So, I wrote a little letter to Etsy:

You recently featured this item: http://www.etsy.com/listing/91179565/free-ship-navajo-burnt-orange-pouch?ref=fp_treasury_11

But it is in trademark violation of the name 'Navajo': http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/apnewsbreak-navajo-nation-sues-urban-outfitters-15816090#.T08Ab4cgdXE

You should not condone illegal sales activities on your site and you should not promote items that violate trademark laws and/or the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe
(Turtle Mountain Chippewa)

Let's see if I get a response.


Here is the response:


This is Katie from Etsy's Marketplace Integrity Team. As you may know, Etsy is a venue that connects shoppers to sellers. Each shop is run independently by the shop owner, and the shop owner is responsible for their content and use of our services. By agreeing to our Terms of Use all members assure us they will follow all applicable laws while using our site. Etsy cannot judge the legality of items or the seller's ability to legally sell an item.

If Etsy receives notice from the authorities that a member's content or activity on our site does not comply with the law, then we will remove it and/or take measures to comply with the law.

Beyond legal issues, it's up to each member to make important ethical and moral decisions about what they choose to buy and sell on Etsy.

Etsy Marketplace Integrity