In this post I will warning you about five different print on demand products and designs that you should not sell, some of these items have the potential to lose your money, because they will sell terribly, and so if you try to sell them, especially if you try to sell them using paid advertising, you risk making a big loss, and other items are ones that you should avoid because they could potentially result in angry customers, merchants and even lawsuits. All of this sounds scary, but don’t worry if you follow the simple advice that I’m going to give you in this article you shouldn’t have any issues and actually some of these tips apply to drop shipping too. So if that’s how you primarily source your items or if you’ve got a fleet store and you’re both drop shipping and you’re doing print on demand, you’re going to find some great dropshipping tips in here as well.
1# First product
So the reason why you should avoid this design and product is because; the phrase let’s get ready to rumble” is trademarked by Michael Buffer.
and this trademark has made Buffer am insane amount of money, thank to its use in movies , it’s netted him over $400 million. And just a warning, Buffer has been known to protect his trademark aggressively, if you use it on a product, that is illegal and you do so at your own peril. Trademarks are actually quite interesting and is very different from copyright. A copyright is a legal protection on an original piece of artwork, so if you draw a picture or you write movie script those are copyrighted, copyright are instantly created when you make your piece of art, you don’t have to do anything, but trademarks are different, a trademark is a legal protection over something that identifies a brand or a company.
the most classic identifier for brand or company is their logo and the Star Wars logo is protected by trademark.
The interesting thing about copyrights is that they are mostly universal, most countries will recognize copyright by default, but trademarks are not universal, you have to fie for you trademark in each country that you want to protect it in.
so if you drop shipping, you’ll see Chinese suppliers sometimes using famous names, sometimes they’re breaking the rules, but sometimes they’re not.
If you no trademark to protect them has been filed in China. But if it’s filed in another country you’re selling to like the USA, it would still be illegal to dropship and sell it there, it would still be illegal to dropship and sell it there even if it was legal to buy and sell it in China. But that’s not all that Star Wars have trademarked, they’ve also failed to protect the names of famous characters, like Luke Skywalker…they could have also chosen to trademark small iconic lines from the movies, because while the entire script as a whole is copyrighted, small individual lines in the movie like I’m your father need to be protected with a trademark, otherwise they come under free speech, as far as I’m aware, though there is no active trademark for that phrase or any other lines from the movies, which is why a lot of print on demand merchandise exists for it. I recommend that before you use any phrase in any print on demand merchandise, that you double check to see if it is trademarked because sometimes, phrases that you wouldn’t have expected have trademarks filed for them. For example. Did you know that Paris Hilton:
trademarked the phrase “that’s hot”? She even sued Hallmark over trademark infringement with this card that made Hallmark tried unsuccessfully to argue it was legally free speech, and they ended up selling out of court.
2# Second product unoriginal item
That would be a mistake to design and sell this print on demand, why do you think that is? The reason why it would be a mistake to sell and design this t-shirt is that it is extremely unoriginal with is a death blow for print on demand products, you can’t walk 2 minutes around Manhattan without seeing someone somewhere selling one of these t-shirts. It’s one of the most eco Nic t-shirts of all time and you think that would be a good thing, right? Well it really isn’t, you see the print on demand has some distinct advantages and disadvantages compared to its close cousin, dropshipping, and if you don’t know what dropshipping is check all articles from here. So one of the disadvantages that print on demand has compared to dropshipping is the profit margins, with drop shipping manufactures, are creating products at mass scale, and so thus, they’re able to lower the price of the product when they’re selling it to you.
with print on demand, though manufacturing costs are higher than usual since you’re making just one at a time so if you want to print a shirt from Printify it’s going to cost you $7.73 to $5.95 a shirt.
But people are mass producing I heart NY shirts at much lower manufacturing costs, so you can buy it super cheaply all over the internet. So selling a super popular t-shirt that everyone already knows through common knowledge that they can get it cheaper elsewhere is a really bad idea unless you have a special, unique spin that you’re putting on it, so yes print on demand has its downsides, but it also has its upsides, one of those is that it lets you target niches that no one else has targeted before.
3# Third Product
Here is a t-shirt that would be very bad to sell, why should you not sell this? The reason why this would be a bad t-shirt to sell is because; it features copyrighted images, but the reason why I included the shirt despite it being kind of an easy one to figure out is because I get asked the question a lot, “I get that copyright infringement is wrong, but what about fan art, is fan art ok?” The answer here is actually really simple, no it’s not okay. Fan art without the explicit permission of there copyrighted holder is illegal, and that includes free fan art that you see posted all around the internet, however, fan art can be a form of free advertising for a lot of brands, and so often brands like Fortnite will give permission to people like you to make free fan art, but not allow people to sell it, so if you try and sell…
…a Fortnite t-shirt like the seller here, it’s probably not going to last on the internet very long. There is however one medium that’s kind of an exception to this, and that is anime. when it comes to people producing and selling fan art.
So while they would not be happy with you creating a poster like this and selling it yourself, featuring in house art that they made, they usually tolerate you selling an original fan art version of it. The reasoning is that they benefit more from the exposure and encouraging their fan base, and so they can let it slide. One of my friend from Alidropship, does dropship illegally created anime products from Aliexpress, and he has not had any indication of being shut down yet, I do however think that this is pretty risky, while anime companies are likely to be fine with fab art into the future Aliexpress product listings infringing on anime copyrights do get periodically shut down for, well you know being illegal.
But do keep in mind that while anime companies might right now be okay with you producing and selling fan art, they could at any time revoke this and choose to start protecting their IP into the future, so be sure to keep that in mind.
4# Fourth print on demand product to avoid
The reason why you could not sell this t-shirt on Etsy is because, I found the artwork for it using Shutterstock, so for those of you that don’t know Shutterstock is a place where you can purchase stock images to use, so if you purchase an enhanced licensed version of an image on the site, you get the legal right to use it for merchandise that you sell for a profit. So why aren’t you then allowed to use it for products that you list and sell on Etsy? Well, that’s because Etsy has some special rules, one of Etsy’s rules is that products you sell on the site, usually need to be original and designed by either you or someone else how is a part of your quote-unquote team and that because Etsy’s focus is on handmade goods.
So if you go ahead and purchase a piece of artwork on Shutterstock, you didn’t design it and nobody on your team designed it either, you just purchased the commercial rights to reuse it. Now don’t worry this doesn’t mean that if you want to sell print on demand items on Etsy that you have to go out there and design all of the images yourself. A really good idea is to go to a site like Upwork and hire a designer on there, as part of your contract with them, require that they allow you to be noted down as a team member on your Esty profile, as Etsy requires; that each member’s role including the designer be identified in your store profile, and I think that this is a really good reminder that when you’re using any third party service to make money on the internet whether it’s Etsy, Facebook or Amazon, that you read their rules really closely.
Most of the time, people post comments about getting kicked off platforms like these were surprising breaking the rules. Everyone talks about the importance of not cutting corners when it comes to things like product research, but usually, people don’t bother talking about the importance of not cutting corners when it comes to legalities, so even though it may be borning. Before you sell on a website like Amazon or Etsy take the time to actually read the rules, so that you don’t pour a bunch of money and time into creating products to sell on there only for them to get taken off and for you to lose all of that wasted energy and well money.
5# Print On Demand design with black background
So this here is a design that I found on Shutterstock, it would be very bad to try to sell it on this t-shirt, why do you think that is? The reason why you should not sell that design on that t-shirt because it has a black background, you might think that because the background on this image if back, that’s ok, that’s ok to print it on a black t-shirt.
If you try to print a picture with a black background on a black t-shirt, it’s going to end up with a weird border around it, and the black color of the t-shirt won’t match the background color, it’s going to look dreadful, it’s ok to choose images with backgrounds if it’s part of the design but stick to printing them on a different colored shirt like maybe a white t-shirt or a gray t-shirt instead.
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