Brand infringement on demand?

Online print services leave you at risk

We recently explained on our Medium blog how print on demand services work. They have changed the e-commerce landscape in the last few years and given small-scale entrepreneurs the opportunity to open lucrative dropshipping companies. But what happens when these easy to use services fall into the wrong hands?


How easy is it to set up an account with a print on demand service?

We chose to test out Printify as they are one of the main print on demand providers. All you need to provide when you initially sign up is an email address. 


How to create a design

Creating a design is shockingly easy on print on demand services. Once you have registered, you can start designing straight away. The first thing you need to do is pick the product you want to print on. There will be a choice of a number of colours and different fits.



(Many different options are available - image source Printify)


Once you have chosen you can then go on and choose which supplier you want to use. As well as seeing basic supplier details, you can also see shipping details and prices.



(There are always at least two options on popular products - image source Printify)


Once you are through to the design screen, you are able to use any picture and put it on the garment. It’s fairly easy to create a design from a picture you have taken from the internet, say for example, the logo of a sportswear brand. One would imagine that well-known sportswear brands have quite good brand protection strategies. But what about smaller companies that have their own intellectual property? Smaller companies still come up with their own designs and it is likely they do not have brand protection strategies as good as the bigger companies.


The worrying thing about how easy this all is, is that ANYONE could copy design. You only need to find an image online and you can start printing it immediately.



(It is easy to add in a logo - image source Printify)


The file is just uploaded and positioned on the garment template.



(It’s easy to use a well-known logo - image source Printify)


Now for the interesting part. Once you have uploaded the design, you can publish it straight to your linked Shopify store. As soon as it is published, people can buy it. Despite the measures Printify put in place themselves, this means people can still profit from your designs if they decide to steal them from the internet. Although Printify has an IP policy, it is not clear how they enforce this. It is already quite easy to find examples of complaints against printing platform users using someone else’s intellectual property, like this one against Teespring by Zumba Fitness. Teespring are not the only offenders. Zazzle have also landed themselves in hot water with a trademark holder sending them a cease and desist for use of a Greek letter.


Visit our website to find out how we can help you to track your products and with other areas of your brand protection.