When creating your teacher resources that you are intending to sell, the use of trademarked materials and products can be very grey area. In the classroom setting, you are free to use trademarked names in your own activities, but when it comes to selling it is a completely different situation.
In order to ensure that you’re following trademark legislation and to avoid claims of infringement, the best approach to creating resources is to use only your own original content. We have mentioned before that if you are using clipart and fonts in your products it’s important to make sure you have the right to use it (i.e. make sure you’re respecting the creator’s licensing terms, get explicit permission from the creator, or make sure your use is “fair use”).
One area in which you must take extreme care is in referencing brand names in your resource titles and descriptions. If you want to incorporate a trademarked name into your work, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t create any confusion around your association with that brand or company. It’s best to check with the trademark owner’s rules around how their name can be used by others.
Here are some examples of trademarked items that are off limits to sellers Trademarked names
Board Games – Monopoly, Scattergories, Pictionary, Boggle, Scrabble, UNO, Jenga, Lego and basically any games made by larger companies like Waddingtons, Parker, Hasbro etc
Trademarked video games e.g. Pacman, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Club Penguin (any online trademarked names)
Videos and TV characters- CANNOT be used in items without the expressed consent of the company. These companies are strictly off limits, Pixar, Disney, Warner Brothers, Columbia, Universal, 20th Century Fox etc. any characters that may be on the TV e.g. Dora, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse, Minions, Frozen Characters etc.
Authors and Books –Dr Seuss is absolutely off limits and are extremely vigilant in scrutinizing products on the internet. Eric Carle and other authors are strictly off limits. You may not use any images from their covers, their books or quote any text directly from their books to use in your resources.
Songs and Poems- may not be used in resources without the express permission from the author or publishing company.
Educational Materials – Cuisenaire rods, Centicubes, Unifix cubes, Reading Recovery, Super Six strategies, Dolch word lists, Fry, Jolly Phonics, Mini Lit, Doodle Notes, Reading Eggs – many of the programmes that are commonly used in our classrooms.
Food Chains and department stores – McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Hungry Jacks, KFC, K Mart,Coles characters, Woolworths, Target etc.
These following tools may be a useful reference tool if you are unsure if an item is trademarked or not. It is best to do your homework prior to creating a resource which may result in being taken down.
You may find that you will receive a take-down notice or a cease and desist notice. What are they? These videos may prove useful for reference.
If you receive either a take-down notice or a Cease and Desist (C and D) you must take them seriously to avoid legal action. In most cases, it is prudent to simply take your resource down from the website on which it is uploaded. For the price of your resource, in most instances it is the preferred option, given that your resource may only cost a few dollars, and you wish to avoid spending a fortune in legal fees should it proceed to court.
It does happen….many sellers on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers have had authors issued with these, and have simply removed their products.
Cease and Desist Letters
Useful Copyright and trademark document from Teachers Pay Teachers