I’m probably not supposed to talk about this.
But…several months ago, I got an email from the Etsy Legal Team with the subject “Etsy Infringement Notice.” Scary. Scarier yet was how all of my handmade necktie wristlets had been deactivated from my shop. Poof! They were gone. The email said that I had violated the Copyright and Intellectual Property Law. What?! Was I some sort of criminal? At the very least, I must be a bad person. It turned out that someone was mad at me. This stranger had said that I had stolen her idea--her patented idea. I was being instructed to not, I repeat NOT, sell anymore necktie wristlets. If I did, my shop would be burned to the ground and my family killed. Or something like that.
I felt a lot of emotions. On one hand, the necktie wristlet hadn’t been my original idea. I had seen one somewhere, sometime, and these wristlets had sprung from there. What creativity isn’t inspired by others’? I had, in fact, seen lots of things made from neckties in my life. This isn’t a new idea. People have been recycling neckties since the dawn of crafting. I also felt mad. Selling things made out of neckties is a leisurely hobby of mine. I’m a professional educator. Crafting is not my livelihood, but merely something I dabble in and enjoy. Was this stranger really so threatened by the nine wristlets I had sold over the past 5 months that she needed to shut me down? I didn’t understand.
In the Legal Team’s email, I was given this stranger’s name and email address. I decided to contact this woman and reason with her. I believe in the power of communication. If you have a problem, you talk about it. I swallowed all those feelings of anger and sent her the following:
I was really confused when I received a notification from the Etsy legal team regarding copyright infringement. After looking in your shop I see that you make a similar necktie wristlet and have been doing so for some time. I'm truly sorry that you feel I've copied your design and original idea. That was certainly not my intent at all!
I'm a teacher in a public school in Milwaukee. Crafting and having an Etsy shop is just a hobby of mine. I've been in love with vintage neckties for a long time and I first started making purses from them several years ago. I guess my point is that I'm not out to take away business from you or steal your ideas, but just that I enjoy making purses and wristlets out of old neckties. My hope is that we can resolve this matter in a way that makes everyone feel good and that is in the spirit of crafting.
All the best,
There. That should do it. Except that this woman never responded. Not so much as a peep. Why, that’s not in the spirit of crafting! The spirit of crafting is about sharing ideas and inspiring creativity! It’s about appreciating that someone else out there in the world likes making things out of old ties the same way you do! Weren’t we sorta like kindred spirits? I guess not. My spirit was quickly turning into spite. A part of me now wanted to take business away from this woman.
I contacted my lawyer-friend for advice. We decided that if I changed my design and made it different enough, that it would no longer be copying. I began to feel energized. Nothing inspires quite like spite. I had been thinking about improving my design anyway, and now it was time to get to work. I would turn this stranger’s negative energy into positive, spite-filled energy.
Instead of two pockets, I added a third pocket. I changed the design of the strap to incorporate the skinny end of the necktie, and I used the tie label to hold the D-ring in place. Voila! Now, that’s a necktie wristlet!
|Old design. Yuck!|
|New and improved!|
I don’t really like lemonade (it makes me thirsty), but the old adage rings true: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or, in my case, when life gives you copyright infringement, make a better product and sell it for a few bucks more.