–Sharon Armstrong, Attorney
Would you wear these tights (yes, they’re animal-rainbow print)?
How about this hair decoration (yes, it’s made out of an orange)?
Would you give your child, or your favorite King-of-Pop fan, this toy (yes, it’s a Michael Jackson sock monkey)?
These are but many of the handmade objects and wearable art available at Etsy, a sort-of modern day handicrafts bazaar where independent artisans can sell their creations and wares. The mission of Etsy, which has been in business since 2005, is “to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.”
These are also but many of the handmade objects and wearable art at which fun is poked, or that are downright mocked, at Regretsy, a relatively new web site whose tagline is “Handmade? It looks like you made it with your feet.” [Warning: the Regretsy site features some of the more edgy and controversial pieces available on Etsy, and may contain graphic imagery and/or imagery that is not safe for work.]
Given the tenor of Regretsy’s commentary on Etsy’s artists, the level of coverage Regretsy has received from major media outlets (here and here – and again I renew the previous warning), and the basic fact that Regretsy looks and sounds a lot like the federally registered trademark Etsy, one might think that Etsy would be ready to rumble.
More after the jump.
And yet, aside from a request to add a disclaimer and modify its site so it didn’t look quite so much like Etsy’s, Etsy has not only turned the other cheek to Regretsy but has even suggested that Regretsy’s point-and-laugh methods are actually helping the artists “showcased” on the web site. Indeed, every handicraft featured on Regretsy actually links to the artists’ shop on Etsy’s site. As Regretsy states, “if you like something you see here, don’t argue with us, go and buy it…We’re only too glad to have made the introduction.”
Etsy’s choice essentially to work with Regretsy rather than to enforce its marks against Regretsy appears to make sense for a few reasons. First, Regretsy’s disclaimer clearly states that the parties aren’t affiliated. Second, Regretsy appears to be simply a creative version of a “gripe site” – a web site that exists to comment fairly, if not necessarily flatteringly, on the goings-on of others – that is not generating any revenue. As a result of working with Regretsy, Etsy may become even more well-known than before Regresty launched.