I had a little set back last week. Although what seemed like something to be concerned about at first, turned out to be less of a panic moment than I had first thought.
They had received a complaint from the author of another potty training book, “3 Day Potty Training” about affiliates using that phrase to promote the ClickBank product I’m promoting.
Supposedly affiliates are using it on Adwords and Facebook to promote the ClickBank product.
The author in question advised ClickBank that she has a US Copyright and US trademark of this phrase so ClickBank requested that I remove the phrase from my website.
This seems to be ClickBank’s immediate stance where they receive a written demand from an author.
It had me worried for a while because the email mentioned lawyers but I knew I’d not done anything wrong. At least not on purpose!
I’ve not used Facebook or ads to promote the product so that complaint couldn’t be levelled against me personally.
I’d also only used this phrase once in a post and so it was very easy to make amendments. It got me to thinking about copyright and trademarks though.
I decided to dig a little deeper into what the complainant was talking about.
Can You Copyright A Phrase?
I’ve looked at this from the point of view of being in the US and the UK and my understanding is that you cannot copyright a phrase.
You can copyright a book or a work of art but not the title of the book.
Whilst the author who complained, I believe, was incorrect that affiliates are breaking copyright law by using the disputed phrase, they also have a US trademark for the phrase.
Trademarking A Phrase
By owning the trademark for the phrase in the US, the author is actually able to ask that people stop using it in this case, although only in the US.
Where things become a little fuzzy for me is that I’m in the UK, not the US. She doesn’t own the trademark in the UK because I’ve checked so does that mean I can continue to use the phrase?
I think if I were promoting the ClickBank eBook solely in the UK then I could argue that a US trademark has no jurisdiction in the UK and her complaint is invalid.
The trouble is most of my visitors to the niche site are from the US. That’s the tricky part.
I’m based in Scotland and therefore come under Scots Law but my website can be seen by anyone in the world.
But the question is, how would I ever have known that the phrase had a trademark in the US in the first place?
Do You Ever Check Your Keywords For Trademarks?
I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t check keywords for trademark phrases.
The phrase I used on my niche site wasn’t even a keyword and it never crossed my mind that it may have a trademark against it in the US.
I just used it as a phrase within a sentence based on one of my keywords.
So how on earth do you check if any of your keywords have a trademark against them?
The trouble is that trademarks in most cases are registered in each country so you’d need to check their databases.
That is, if you are targeting specific countries. I wasn’t and still aren’t.
Here are some of the international government websites you can search for trademarked terms and phrases:
Intellectual Property Office
It can be tricky to find out if a word or phrase is trademarked and in which country.
Is it a case that we try to abide by the ones we’re aware of and hope for the best with everything else?
I’m not convinced I want to check for trademarked terms in every keyword where I’m using affiliate marketing. That would just be counter-productive. Maybe I should though but where do you draw the line?
What do you do? Has the same thing ever happened to you before with trademarks? Do you check keywords for trademarked terms and phrases?
Please share your thoughts on this as I’m interested to hear what other people do and what their experiences are.
It’d be great if you could click on your favourite social media share button below too so more people can join in .
Thank you in advance!