Selling Online with Copyright, Design Rights and Trademarks


Found a product or style and have just made a replica? You’re now ready to sell it online right? Hold up! Did you know your products can land you with a fine, loss of stock and even land yourself in prison?

In this article we’ll cover the basics of selling online with Copyright, Design Rights and Trademarks.

Quick Definitions:

  • Copyright: This is typically used for literary works, musical works and artworks etc and is automatically granted.
  • Design Rights: A design right will apply to a physical product: the appearance of a product, in particular, the shape, texture, colour, materials used, contours and ornamentation. To qualify as a new design, the overall impression should be different from any existing design. Just like trademarks, an unregistered design right will receive some protection under common law, but can be registered at national (or world region) level for further protection in those countries.
  • Trademark: A trademark is intended to prevent confusion in the marketplace. A trademark can be a name, word, slogan, design, symbol or other unique device that identifies a product or organisation. It is quite literally ‘a mark under which you trade’.


You automatically get copyright protection when you create: original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography. original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases.

If you use someone else’s copyright or intellectual property without their consent this is known as trademark infringement. In the UK an unauthorised used of a trademark, as part of the trademark act 1994 and Copyright, designs & patent act 1988, can be fined a minimum £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment.

Copyright prevents people from:

  • copying your work
  • distributing copies of it, whether free of charge or for sale
  • renting or lending copies of your work
  • performing, showing or playing your work in public
  • making an adaptation of your work
  • putting it on the internet

Design Right

Design right protection in the UK is pretty complex and has various layers. There are UK unregistered design rights and UK registered design rights. There is also unregistered EU design rights and registered EU design rights which currently cover the UK.

Unregistered design right is somewhat similar to copyright in that it arises from the act of a design creation.

Infringement of a registered design right occurs when your design is reproduced by a third party. With unregistered protection, the design right holder will need to prove that the design has been copied.

By registering a design, the owner has a monopoly right in that design. This means that a third party cannot knowingly or unknowingly produce products that incorporate elements of the registered design.


A trade mark is a visual symbol which may be a word to indicate the source of the goods, a signature, name, device, label, numerals, or combination of colours used, or services, or other articles of commerce to distinguish it from other similar goods or services originated from another. A trade mark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it or to authorize another to use the same in return of payment. (Source – )

You can read up on the consequences of different types of infringement here –

Some examples of infringement we often see

  • Using quotes that are trademarked (Usually by Disney, but not exclusively) – Example “I love you to the moon and back.”
  • Using materials containing the intellectual property of another business – Examples Fabrics featuring characters prints (Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig and Disney Characters)
  • Using illegally obtained trademarked fonts – Example, Disney font. 
  • Using knock off/dupe trademarked chemical compositions and referring to them as the Official brand. (perfumes/fragrance oils) – Example Zoflora Scented Wax melts, or naming after perfume brands like Joop, Lacoste, ect.
  • Turning branded items into new products – example, Alcohol bottles turned into decor (potential trademark issue), Branded clothing being turned into new items of clothing or being modified with tie dying or be-dazzling.

Although all compliance is down to the responsibility of the vendors, our team here at Crafter’s Market UK would love to be able to regularly monitor the site for products of infringement to remove them. Unfortunately as the marketplace grows we won’t always see these items – If you come across a product of concern we’d love for you to email us on or by using the “Report an issue” button on each listing.

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