Intellectual Property Usage Guidelines
At TeeChip, our goal is to make it easy for you to create original campaigns and make money online. At the same time, it is our responsibility to do our part to ensure that all campaigns posted to the TeeChip service do not infringe the rights of third parties, including their intellectual property rights. In keeping with those objectives, we provide these guidelines to educate our users regarding what is acceptable and what is not, so that you can focus attention on creating campaigns and growing your customer list.
The purposes of this guide is to help our sellers identify potentially infringing content and to post campaigns in a way that is fully compliant with the law, to give our sellers insight into the process by which we review the campaigns they have submitted, and to explain why some campaigns may be removed from the TeeChip service.
Please note that the guidelines below should be considered general guidelines only; they are by no means a comprehensive legal guide, and TeeChip cannot provide you with legal advice regarding any specific campaign or design. If you have specific questions about an individual campaign or design, you should consult with an attorney.
Types of Potentially Infringing Content
Copyright is a form of legal protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to e.g., reproduce and copy the work, prepare derivative works based upon the work, distribute copies of the work, and publicly display or perform the work. In the U.S., an author is not required to register his or her work to claim copyright protection.
In the context of designs submitted to the TeeChip service, copyright law usually protects images, words, and other artistic expression. Trademarks usually protect company and trade names and emblems, and protect consumers from purchasing goods that they incorrectly believe originate from a source other than the actual seller. Copyright and trademark may overlap to protect an item in different ways (for example, a company logo may be both a trademark of that company, and a copyrighted image).
You may not upload a design containing a third party’s copyrighted work without their permission, unless otherwise permitted by an exception to copyright law, such as when making a fair use. Fair use judgments and other copyright exceptions can be complicated; if you are planning to rely on them please consider getting advice from an attorney before posting your design. If you are posting work that is not original to you, consider carefully whether your design might be infringing, and if necessary obtain written permission from the copyright owner before you post.
Here are some examples of designs that may receive notices of infringement from copyright owners:
Absent either a license from the copyright owner, or an exception such as fair use, designs like those shown above may be infringing because they copy third party artistic content, or are derived from third party artistic content. For example, the “Hulk” design pictured above may infringe the Hulk character copyright, even though it represents your own original Hulk fan artwork. Please note that your design may be infringing even if only a portion of it contains third-party copyrighted content, and even if you have modified the content.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design – or a combination of words, phrases, symbols, or designs – that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Trademark owners have the exclusive right to use their brands in connection with their goods and services, and those related thereto, and to stop third parties from using those brands in some circumstances. In the U.S., a trademark owner is not required to register its brand to claim trademark protection.
You may not use a third party’s trademark without their permission, where such use would be likely to cause confusion among consumers or (in the case of famous brands) would be likely to dilute the distinctive nature of the mark. As with copyright law, there are exceptions and limitations available in trademark law, including nominative use and descriptive fair use, but these doctrines can be complicated to apply and we recommend that you seek the advice of an attorney if you intend to rely on them.
Here are some examples of designs that may receive notices of infringement from trademark owners:
Absent either a license from the brand owner, or an exception such as fair use, designs like those above may be infringing because they include the brands of third parties and are used on goods of the type sold by those third parties. Please note that your design may infringe both the copyright and the trademark of a rights owner. For example, the “Love Philadelphia” design shown above may infringe both the copyright and trademark rights of several Philadelphia-area sport teams.
Authorized & Fair-Use Content
The easiest way to reduce the risk that you may be infringing the rights of a third party is to post designs containing copyrights or trademarks that you entirely own or control (for example, your own original artwork).
You may also post the copyright and trademarks of third parties when you have permission to do so from those third party right owners. We recommend that if you are seeking permission from rights owners, you obtain clear permission in writing, in case of a later disagreement.
If you wish to make a fair use of the copyrightable content and/or brands of third parties, you can find more information at:
- For copyrights: http://fairuse.stanford.edu
- For trademarks: http://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/FairUse.aspx
As noted above, relying upon a claim of fair use involves risk, and we recommend you consult an attorney before relying those and similar doctrines.
Types of Takedowns
There are two ways in which a campaign can be removed from the TeeChip service:
After a campaign is submitted, it goes through our internal approval and review process. We reserve the right to reject campaigns for any reason, including without limitation:
- Copyright infringement
- Trademark infringement
- False advertising
- Inappropriate content
For more information about the type of content that is not permitted on the service (and therefore subject to rejection), please see our Terms of Service. If your campaign is rejected during our internal review, it will not be published to the TeeChip service, and you may not attempt to re-submit the campaign.
Third party / DMCA Takedown
After a campaign is published, rights holders who see the campaign and believe it is infringing may file a takedown request. TeeChip expeditiously removes, or disables access to, material that it knows to be infringing, for example via a valid DMCA notice. If your content has been taken down due to a third party claim of infringement (or because TeeChip thought it was infringing at the internal review stage), please carefully consider your other campaigns and ensure that they are non-infringing. Do not attempt to re-submit campaigns that have been removed for infringement or other content-based reasons.
Campaigns taken down due to a third party claim of infringement result in a “strike” being assessed to the seller’s account. TeeChip terminates the user accounts of sellers who repeatedly infringe the rights of third parties (i.e., users with an excessive number of strikes), so it is in your interest to avoid getting a “strike” assessed to your account.
Upon having their campaign removed due to a complaint of infringement, sellers who believe their design is not infringing can:
- request to review the original takedown notice; and/or
- file a counter-notice, which may remove the “strike” assessed to their account and, in many cases, allow the campaign to remain active on TeeChip.
To sellers: If you wish to receive a copy of the original takedown notice, please email us at email@example.com. If you wish to file a counter-notice, please follow the procedure listed at teechip.com/ip.
To rights holders: In the event that you locate a campaign on our platform that you believe infringes your intellectual property rights, please submit a DMCA takedown notice using the instructions found at teechip.com/ip. Please note that TeeChip requests all notices pertaining to intellectual property be submitted in the form noted at teechip.com/ip, even if those requests relate to trademarks or other non-copyright intellectual property. All takedown notices must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org for efficient processing; notices submitted via other means may not be properly received, and the processing of such notices may be significantly delayed.
If you have any questions, please feel free to check out these useful links to get more information on intellectual property.