Print on Demand & Brand Protection

Enrico Schaefer - February 24, 2020 - Brand Protection, Internet Law


Print on Demand (“POD”) is a term to describe the business of selling custom designs printed on various different types of products, such as t-shirts, hoodies, books, bags, mugs, and phone cases, among many other items. A few online retailers, such as Zazzle, Redbubble, and TeeSpring, may come to mind when thinking of POD companies. While POD websites provide an outlet for individual artists to gain visibility, increase traction, and establish an e-commerce presence online, the Print on Demand model can create serious infringement risks for brand owners.

Trademark and Copyright Infringement

Many POD websites allow their users to upload and sell their designs without much oversight so as to prevent against trademark and copyright infringement. This not only makes it very easy for infringing products to enter the online marketplace, it is also a strategy employed to insulate POD websites from direct infringement (indeed, RedBubble has escaped liability before). Therefore, it is up to brand owners to monitor and enforce for trademark and/or copyright infringement online so as to take action accordingly.


As Print on Demand becomes more sophisticated, particularly with the introduction of 3D printers, the risk of legitimate goods being counterfeited online through POD websites increases. As one article explains, “3D printing is a game changer, for example, enabling near-exact replication of original items.” Counterfeiting can also create issues when it comes to product labeling and packaging, as well as designs. Print on Demand websites are only gaining in popularity, which means the occurrence of infringement and counterfeiting is going to grow with it.

Brand Enforcement Options

Have you discovered that your intellectual property is being infringed on a Print on Demand website? There are a few different options to enforce and protect your brand online against POD infringement:

  • DMCA Takedown Notice. The fastest and easiest way to combat copyright infringement is to submit a DMCA Takedown to the POD website. POD websites are very responsive to DMCA and will remove allegedly infringing products fairly quickly to maintain their safe-harbor status.
  • Trademark (or other legal) Claim. Most POD websites have either a form or designated email address contact to deal with trademark related claims. Typically, all that is required is proof of a trademark (registered preferred) and an explanation of why the reported items are confusingly similar to the same. As with DMCA Takedowns, POD websites are eager to avoid infringement and will often remove allegedly infringing items from their shops.
  • Infringement Lawsuit. Depending upon the severity of the online infringement, a lawsuit may be the best recourse to cease and prohibit infringement, as well as collect damages (and potentially attorneys’ fees) related to the same. Amongst the most notable infringement cases brought against a POD website was that of Harley-Davidson vs. SunFrog, in which Harley was awarded $19.2 million in statutory damages.

Need Help?

The attorneys at Traverse Legal, PLC specialize in brand protection and are skilled in combating a wide range of intellectual property infringement online. If you need help enforcing your IP rights online against Print on Demand infringement (or any type of online infringement) contact Traverse Legal today.

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We’re here to field your questions and concerns. If you are a company able to pay a reasonable legal fee each month, please contact us today.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.