In recent weeks I have been hit with 2 copyright notices for my books on Amazon. The first thing that comes to mind is ‘OH SHIT!’. The thought of being sued for infringing on their trade mark is something scary, something that I don’t want to get involved in. I only want to publish books on Kindle, give the buyers something they will truly enjoy and collect my royalties every month.
I received my first notice in November 2016, I ignored it and didn’t even read it. It was when I couldn’t promote my book or do advertising with my book that I started to investigate further. A few days prior I received an email from Amazon without noticing it. My email is pretty clogged up, I signed up to too many email lists.
Text is blanked out for legal reasons
I went back and looked at it and noticed I had infringed on a massive company’s Trademark term. I went through all of the emails from Amazon and there it was, an email address of the company which I had infringed on. I read the email and Amazon said it does not get involved in third party disputes, so I emailed the 3rd party and within 24 hours I received an email back from them.
The email I received was the polite, professional and stated exactly what I had done wrong, it was a term (word or words) that they owned. I emailed them very apologetic and removed my titles from Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace and Audible. I rubbed my hands clean and thought it is all over, I could concentrate on what was important, building up my Kindle business.
I sent them an email explaining I had received an email from Amazon stating I had infringed on their copyright term.
A day later I received this email from them.
2nd Copyright Infringement
After the first case had finished I thought I was in the clear. Well, I had thought too quickly and it was not meant to be. A few weeks later I received another email from Amazon stating that I had infringed on another term, this couldn’t get any worse! This term took out 3 more of my books, now I was down a total of 6 books. the worst thing about this was 3 of them were box sets.
The term holder sent me details of the trademark I had infringed, a certificate to show he owned it and the link to the USPTO trademark website. I looked for his registration number and there it was, his trademark for his term. I had well and truly infringed upon him, but the fact of this one was he didn’t own the trademark till November 2016 and I published the book in June 2016. I read more and saw he first used the term in the 1990’s so he had been using it a long time.
I asked him what he wanted to do and he gave me three options
Change the word used in my publication other than the term.
License the use of the trademark from him
Stop publishing and distributing your publication, cease and desist.
He preferred that I cease and desist publication and distribution.
I decided on number 3, it was hard to swallow but I knew it was the smartest decision.
Even though this was difficult and annoying to do because I had worked hard on the books, getting them up, investing not just my money but time into these books, for me it is better to walk away with a warning than a law suit on my hands.
This has made me a smarter business person, and it now makes me think that there is a bit more research that needs to be done than just the keyword research.
It’s really back to business, doing what I normally do, create books, work on the business and grow it so I make more money. This is just a small stumbling block that I have come out clean on the other side, I am not suffering from it, it is something that has made me smarter and more knowledgeable.
How Can You Avoid This
Avoiding this is really easy. When doing your keyword research you think you’ve found a fantastic keyword, well think again. Before you jump full force into the keyword, do a bit of a background check on it. Do a few searches online and see whether it is owned by someone, if you do find the term owned by someone you have two options to find out what you can do with it.
Leave it alone and move onto the next keyword
Email the copyright holder and ask whether you can use it or they will give you permission to use the term.
I would personally leave the term alone as the copyright holder can change their mind at any time and then you will be screwed
The best place to search is the USPTO website for trademarks in the USA – www.uspto.gov
Always be aware that this can happen to you too if you publish in a keyword which is trademarked or copyrighted. Just be mindful of this fact and do prior research so you don’t waste your time or money when in fact those same resources can be used on something which will be more profitable for you.