Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morons 1, 2, and 3 - From the Bitches' Auxillary

We received an Aux email that describes perfectly how inefficient the Etsy admins really are. Not only do they not know what the hell they're talking about in general, but they also don't even talk to each other or properly delegate tasks. The lawyer should handle copyright or patent issues from the start, not support, and billing should be aware of support issues to handle them accordingly.

Below is the story, which has been edited to remove specifics and avoid potential fallout for the already Etsy-pained seller.

Why the admins at etsy are morons!

I got a convo from a girl that claims she has a patent for selling the same items that I do on etsy. When I got the convo, I thought "let me do some research before I respond to her." I got an appt. with a lawyer for 2 days later. He told me that this girl has a design patent and not a utility patent. That means she has a patent for something that anyone can get online. Basically, her patent is invalid.

That night I get home, and I get an email from Emily Bidwell that they are removing my items from the site. This girl is claiming infringement and they are taking
it off of their site based upon their COPYRIGHT and IP Policy. The email
references http://www.etsy.com/copyright_policy.php.
If we go to that page, it clearly states “Etsy, Inc.(“Etsy”) has adopted the following general policy toward copyright and intellectual property infringement in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/legislation/dmca.pdf)."

Now, I am not a lawyer, but my items are not digital in nature AND this is a patent suit. Furthermore, the email states that if I feel that this claim is unfounded or a mistake that I refer to “Etsy’s Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy (http://www.etsy.com/copyright_policy.php) and provide Etsy with the four pieces of information required for a DMCA 'counter notice.'" Again, this is not a DMCA issue. Not only that but I had purchased TWO showcases for two days later and three days after that. I asked for my money back because they have taken down my listings. I get a reply from Jason stating that “Showcase spots are nonrefundable. We can remove you from these Showcases if you don’t have any items to add to your Showcase lineups.” Gee, thanks. That is really sweet of you JASON! How convenient that you take down my listing RIGHT before my showcases.

Anyway, before I decided to fill out the DMCA “counter notice,” I decided to speak to my lawyer. Of course my lawyer thought their lawyers are morons if they are citing DMCA for taking my listing off. I want my listing back up so I decide to fill out the counter notice. I get an email from Sarah Feingold that she received my counter notice but she “apologizes for any confusion as to our policies, however this does not appear to be a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim.” DUH! Then she further writes, “As you know, Etsy is a venue. Etsy is not a judge or jury or an arbitrator and we are not equipped to make a determination as to the validity of a United States design patent.” Well if you are not Sarah, then WHY DID YOU TAKE MY LISTING OFF??? If you cannot make any judgment, then put my listings back up on ETSY!

Dumbest people I have ever met!

We agree.

39 Comments:

Brass Monkey Designs said...

What a horrific mess.

teawithfrodo said...

since this person already has the lawyer I would suggest having the lawyer send a letter saying that etsy should not have taken the listings off.
And if they do not put the listings back and put the person in showcases that were paid for then they need to refund all money.

We know they won't do it...
but they need to get a legal letter to scare them a bit.

etsypainedseller said...

I am in the process of doing that. Thanks!

jinx1764 said...

Wow! that totally sucks!

unbelieveable said...

Sooooooo......
they take your items down, and keep all your money.

Customer Service (and Common Sense) FAIL

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Top Shelf Totes said...

What a bunch of B.S. from the Etsy side. They have hundreds if not thousands of listings that REALLY ARE infringing on copyright (Twilight, Disney, DreamWorks, etc.) and they have done NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING to fix this. They just close threads talking about it, they put their head in the sand, and let chaos ensue.

The Hello Kitty copyright holder finally got wind of this and sent out their own cease and desist letters (from what I can tell in the forums) and Etsy sellers are still confused about their rights. Has Etsy stepped in to educate, take Hello Kitty's side, anything at all?? Not that I can tell. Disney and the rest will be doing this too... just give them time... and Etsy should be ready to defend their own actions of ignorance. If you go search 'Disney' on Etsy right now, you will find hundreds of listings... Etsy could do this search today and take every listing down... they just choose not to. That is not a very good way to look like you are really trying to crack down on copyright infringement, IMHO.

Damn it, just when I was starting to turn the other cheek with Etsy to really focus on my own store and stay positive, they do this. I mean, seriously... they bring out the DMCA... do they even know what that is???? They don't seem to know if they are using it against a PATENT issue and a NON-DIGITAL issue!

What is their problem?? Just when they start looking like they may do some things right, they take a good 100 steps back.

Katie Carolina said...

That is quite the cliffhanger! So what is the outcome? Did Etsy put the items back up, or is she still in limbo?

The showcase thing is a crock. I can't believe they said no to refunding the money. What a scam! This really burns me!

The Righteous One said...

Just wanted to note that yes, despite the dispute between the two sellers, it's between them and their lawyers, not Etsy. Etsy is a venue, as they said.

Also, they cited all sorts of wrong when initially removing the items (DMCA?) that shouldn't even have been mentioned.

Etsy often gets involved playing one side against the other, which isn't right. They should handle all sellers equally and only remove items based on actual legal decisions. The paperwork hadn't even been put through and they removed the items - what the hell?

As far as we know the items are still gone and weren't reimbursed.

teawithfrodo said...

Anonymous said...

I imagine that there could be another side of this story.
While etsy may have been unclear in the difference between a design patent and a utility patent, a design patent would still be inforcable and that would be based on the judgemen of the venue. Can you imagine the rediculous amounts of copying if a seller had to wait for a lawsuit to be settled to get Etsy to act. They are slow enough already and in most cases do not act in the best interests of protecting their sellers from other sellers.
While they (etsy admin) seldom act at a level of professionalism that is needed, there is another side of this story.
Someone does hold a design patent. Just sayn'
----------------------------------

Yes, but she had information from a lawyer.
And if this all really was the case it should be better handled.
Obviously etsy needs a better legal department to handle this, and can't just expect their already dense staff try their hand at legal matters.

sickofetsy said...

Top Shelf Totes is 100% correct!

I contacted one seller and nicely mentioned that they were using copyrighted images. The seller told me to F*Off and since other people were doing it, it was okay for HER to do it.

I have tagged many shops that are using copyrighted material and NOTHING happens. I contacted admin and have been ignored over and over again.

In total disgust, I contact one of the copyright owners and pointed out where their images are being used. I was thanked and told they will be generating a cease and desist order on the sellers.

I'm at the point of leaving Etsy. They only follow the rules THEY want to follow.

etsypainedseller said...

I am the seller and they have not relisted my items nor have they refunded my money. And to the ANONYMOUS poster... yes the person has a DESIGN patent not a UTILITY patent. She is claiming the use of the design which I am not infringing upon. Again... that is for me and the girl accusing me to duke it out. Etsy should not get involved if they cannot determine patent complaints! That is what the courts are for.

no more rose-colored glasses said...

Anonymous said...

I imagine that there could be another side of this story.
While etsy may have been unclear in the difference between a design patent and a utility patent, a design patent would still be inforcable and that would be based on the judgemen of the venue.
_____________
If Etsy is "unclear in the difference between a design patent and a utility patent", then it is pretty clear that their lawyer needs to go back to school.

AND how did a comment by anonymous get posted here and not deleted?

fucking ridiculous said...

fucking ridiculous. If a large corporation like, say, Wachovia or Merrill Lynch pulled tricks like this, lawyers would be all over the place. And not just that sap they've got giving them legal advice.
fucking ridiculous. I'd be beyond pissed.
ps I heard a rumor about how etsy is having financial problems...wouldn' surprise me in the least. Since they can't manage anything, who says they could possibly manage their millions?

SelfRighteousHarpy said...

That's unconscionable and stupid. And that Emily person, who really does not know diddly (my own experience with her) should not be in the legal business. And when the Sarah person responded (who should have handled such items to start with, or at least read through and gave instructions to underlings) the items should have been reinstated, and SHowcase items credited, since it was ETSY's FAULT, not the seller!

And to anonymous who can't spell, who's saying there's another side to the story -- So we're all guilty just because we've been accused???? Many, many accusations of infringement are unfounded, and the seller "being protected" from another seller is not deserving of "protection" at the expense of another seller, when that other seller is innocent of the charges!

Sucks big time!

And, yes, why not bother with all the Hello Kitty & Disney infringements, which have been flagged and flagged, instead of one seller trying to destroy another seller?

Of course, this heavy-handed behavior is exactly what an ignorant administration would practice. Overkill. and unfair, to boot!

The Righteous One said...

Sorry, the anon comment was my fault. I wasn't paying attention to names while approving. I'll delete it in order to maintain the standards.

Anon, feel free to comment again with a name (any name).

teawithfrodo said...

etsypainedseller :
good luck, I wish there was more we could do for you. But I'm glad you are taking action against etsy and not just rolling over.
This is not the kind of exposure they want. I would also suggest going to news venues and see about them reporting this.

The Cranky One said...

Just because someone went to law school it doesn't m ean they are a lawyer. You aren't a lawyer till you pass the bar. Until you pass the bar you aren't ALLOWED to advise on legal issues. If I gave more of a shit I'd go and look up to see if Etsy's "legal" person has a law license... but I don't. It's pretty clear she's a fucking moron. I never went to law school, or even took a patents class but I still know more than she obviously does. But then I probably have 15 years on her.

Fucking hipster idiots.

Rana said...

So I guess Etsy's "handmade" label is now extended to the law? It's bad enough that they have to reinvent (poorly) code and selling practices from scratch - now they want to do it with the legal system?

etsypainedseller - I'm so sorry this happened. I hope your lawyer earns his or her money and gets you some satisfaction.

The Funny One said...

There probably is another 2 or 3 sides to this story, but Etsy's over-reaction and refusal to refund showcase fees indicates that there is probably a personal reason for removing items from one store while upholding another --- like playing favorites again. Has Etsy ever really been objective?

The real issue is that sellers can't and don't trust Etsy to make good decisions----on anything. Etsy is 100% responsible for encouraging an atmosphere of fear and retaliation. It's not appropriate for a biz of this size to ignore the fact that they should have set up an arbitration process to handle disputes between sellers and forbid seller to seller contact on specific legal issues. Most online retail sites have a no tolerance policy in place.

I think it's personal. Etsy is upholding one seller while penalizing another, and it's personal. It's how Etsy has handled their entire business from the start. Personal picks, personal attacks and personal retalition.

forum rubbernecker said...

speechless, really.

Heather said...

If they haven't refunded your fees, can you sue in civil court? I would love to see judge judy all over etsy's ass, lol.

Megan said...

Totally ridiculous. I don't know what the seller plans to do but I'd be fighting to get my money back from Etsy and I wouldn't be back. Hell no.

foxaz said...

Not knowing the specifics of this situation, I'm reminded of Emily's steampunk "friend"- who was allowed to run rampant - even to airing personal tirades in her shop announcement - while the competing seller was shut down and booted off Etsy.

It must be personal- that's how Etsy rolls.

xoxoxoxo said...

Isn't it the responsibility of the copyright holder to take action against a person violating a copyright? So, someone can break copyright on Hello Kitty or Twilight until they are blue in the face as long as the copyright holder doesn't pursue it? And, I think it's well known some copyright holders are more stringent than others.

Brass Monkey Designs said...

you thought we wouldn't notice

http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/ ?

It's an entire blog dedicated to people who rip off other people's designs. There are other Etsy sellers in this exact same situation who got zero help from Etsy. I think the OP needs to post her story there too.

I found this entry there:

Admin told me to deal with her directly and “work it out”, which led to a series of abusive emails from her threatening my business, my life, and my 4 year old daughter. I have sent the emails, with full headers to Etsy, and some other trace backs as well that prove that it’s the same IP address. When I reported the email threats to admin, their response was “Thanks for letting us know” - and nothing else.

So they tell one seller to "work it out" and essentially blow her off and they yank stuff out of another seller's shop.

One of the most important things I learned in parenting is that if you are going to make a rule, it has to apply to EVERYONE. And if you are not always going to be consistent in enforcing that rule, then you may as well not having it at all.

Whether adopting a "Yank first and find out the truth later" or a "You're on your own" policy, Etsy needs to show some damned consistency and handle every single copyright infringement accusation the same way.

They also need to refund the seller her money or at least give her a credit to appear in another showcase because you KNOW they are not going to just leave those spots empty. Someone's going to pay to have that spot, so they'll get the money TWICE. Jerks.

jed said...

These admins are dumber than a box of rocks!

From the way they act it gives me the feeling they are a bunch of teenagers working out of a basement or garage...not a corporation with a $27M investment in their pockets.

Why did they bring in the big time CEO and the programing guy, if this kind of crap still is happening? Are they hiding out under rocks somewhere, rather than policing (and yes, they do need policing) their hipster employees who obviously are not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier?

forum rubbernecker said...

If they haven't refunded your fees, can you sue in civil court? I would love to see judge judy all over etsy's ass, lol.
__________
Some day, some judge is going to be. Without a doubt.

your place for handmade law said...

Every now & then I search copyrighted items on Etsy (there are thousands), and send emails to the legal departments of the companies.

Etsy has no credibility as a quality shopping venue because everyone knows it's knock-off central.

But you can't expect Etsy to establish quality policies and procedures for dealing with it when they don't know the difference between a patent and a copyright, and they don't care either.

They just randomly decide who's guilty and who's not, and act with no consistency. Some are guilty until proven innocent, and some are innocent until proven guilty. Flip a coin to see which one you are.

upsetwithadmin said...

foxaz said...
Not knowing the specifics of this situation, I'm reminded of Emily's steampunk "friend"- who was allowed to run rampant - even to airing personal tirades in her shop announcement - while the competing seller was shut down and booted off Etsy.

It must be personal- that's how Etsy rolls.
_____________________


My thought exactly when I read this.

Top Shelf Totes said...

Isn't it the responsibility of the copyright holder to take action against a person violating a copyright? So, someone can break copyright on Hello Kitty or Twilight until they are blue in the face as long as the copyright holder doesn't pursue it? And, I think it's well known some copyright holders are more stringent than others.

-----

This is true. I was a bit too broad in saying they have done nothing (as you have stated, it really isn't their place in copyright if it hasn't been brought up by the copyright holder).

I will say that Etsy should really consider a very strong policy around copyright & patents. Given their actions around this patent, I wouldn't consider any policy they have on their site to be strong, or clear. They don't appear to even know the difference between a Patent and a copyright (I bet they don't even know the difference between design and utility patents, based on what happened in this situation) nor do they seem to understand the difference between DMCA and other copyrights.

While you are completely right that it is not Etsy's responsibility to police copyright, I do think they owe it to their community to have a clear policy around it, what actions they will take when a complaint is made and what actions they will not take. This needs to be consistent, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

They have users who were contacted by Hello Kitty, who are still confused. I just did a search for Hello Kitty and got 104 PAGES returned to me for browsing. Now, Etsy may not have been contacted by Hello Kitty, but I'm sure they will be, and if they do not have a policy about what they will do, that is clear and consistent... I promise you, Etsy will have some problems.

This problem will NOT go away... especially when you have confused sellers who don't understand. Wouldn't you, as the venue, want to at least take some basic precautions against a lawsuit on yourself and your sellers who bring in revenue for you by doing a bit of education?

Etsy's answer to this has been a clear, no. Based on actions they take on these discussions (closing threads for no reason), and complete silence to the questions. They have absolutely no interest in being clear around copyright, patents, etc. In fact, after reading about this person's situation, I'm convinced that Etsy does not understand their own policy, does not understand the policies they are 'enforcing' (randomly), and they can not be trusted to do the right thing.

This could happen to any of us... and the fact that I could be shut down by them for whatever they deem is a reason... that is scary.

OP, please fight this if you are able. I seriously think this is absolutely inexcusable. With a lawyer on your side who really seems to get it, it seems to me that you can win this, hands down. Especially with Etsy's admission that they were wrong.

Pissed off buyer said...

Totes you hit it on the head. Etsy needed a strong IP team - even a third party source - yesterday. Further proof that no one over there is thinking anything through past five minutes from now.

dersesse said...

it's amazing here that etsy wont get involved in the trademark infringement of say hello kitty,teletubbies and whatever else crap they've got for sale and yet they take seemingly illegal and unsubstantiated measures against sellers who have zero case or an inkling of a case in the sea of real copycats, brand theft and so on that is etsy. its really a disappointment .
they are so inconstistent!!!!!

rollingmyeyesasusual said...

Might that inconsistency lie in the fact that in the OP's situation, it's a fellow etsy seller that holds the patent, whereas in the Hello Kitty, etc., situations, it's a 'big, faceless' corporation? Because, you know, the rights of the indie crafter really are much more worthy than anyone else's... (That's sarcasm, there, folks.) I'm just saying it's kind of in line with Etsy's whole mantra of "supporting" the little guy. Or at least the little guys they like. That being said, the fact that they took the OP's money for showcases, then took down all her listings and won't give her money back makes my blood absolutely boil. Jerks.

the redhead said...

Could someone pleas explain in layman's terms, the difference between a design and a utility patent?

tia

The Righteous One said...

redhead, a design patent is a patent for item design - say a flight propulsion system. Utility patent is for use - say space flight.

If two different people hold those, the one who holds the utility patent cannot sue someone for using the propulsion system in cars on the ground (for example) because they don't hold a patent on the design, only on that particular use of it. Chances are the design patent is no longer protected so people are getting utility patents on it to protect their use of the design, but are overstepping their bounds on what it covers.

Eveline said...

I knew that Etsy had had trouble with Sanrio, so I did a quick forum search, and this is one of the threads that popped up. Hello Kitty was 'banned' in 2007, but you wouldn't know it 2 years later..

http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=5115172

It's so sad that Etsy keeps fucking things up over and over and over. It will not be long before someone takes some serious action against Etsy.

trusk4u said...

Taking the items down and not reimbursing the money paid for the showcases could be breach of contract. Money was paid to show the items and that is a binding contract. Since Etsy took the stuff down and kept the money, they broke the contract with this shop owner. They should sue!

justbitchy said...

Here's a new one...

Seller A has two accounts and both are listed in each account as per the rules.

Seller B harasses Seller A via convos and in public on the forums.

Seller A reports the forum posts and the convos to Etsy.

Etsy sends Seller A - yes SELLER A - a notice that their accounts are in violation of the multiple account disclosure rule EVEN THOUGH BOTH ACCOUNTS LIST EACH OTHER CLEARLY.

Seller A responds the the multiple accounts ARE LISTED and asks about the harassment issue.

Etsy never contacts Seller A again and Seller B's harassment continues on the forum and in convos.

Seller A closes both accounts because who needs shit like that.

No more fees from Seller A for Etsy and Seller A will not be buying on Etsy anymore either and Seller B the harasser goes on a harassment spree that lasts an entire weekend.

Etsy is beyond fucked up.