Someone recently asked me why I don’t sell Eric Carle items in my Etsy shop. He is kind of a rock star in our town. And Eric Carle fever is present in our home too!
I mean, we love Eric Carle in this house. We have a family membership to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and use it. We read all of the Eric Carle books we can. We even have a particular favorite, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, in both picture book and board book form. The picture book is currently being held together with massive amounts of tape and I’m not sure that the goldfish and teacher will recover from many more toddler kisses and page-turns. She loves that book hard!
“Peacock, peacock, what do you hear?”
I want to share our love of Eric Carle with everyone. Really, I do!
I want to make Very Hungry Caterpillar bibs — how cute, right? Your baby is eating a strawberry and the caterpillar is eating a strawberry!
I’d love to whip up a few Brown Bear matching games — match blue horse to blue horse or purple cat to purple square.
Try my hand at creating costumes that correspond with those in Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
But, alas, I can’t! To do so would be a trademark violation.
I bought some super cute Eric Carle fabric, ready to make some fab things for the shop, when I read the selvedge: For Personal Use Only. Whaaaaat?
My first thought was, “But this is personal! This couldn’t be more personal. I love this body of work and want to share it…personally!”
My second thought was, “But so many others on Etsy are doing it. Maybe there is an Etsy loophole?” No such luck.
My third thought was to talk with people who would encourage me to break the law. My husband, Mr. Morally Moralson, and sister, a trademark litigation lawyer, did not do that. In hindsight, they were the wrong people to talk to.
I’m tempted to violate trademark law every week when a new idea pops into my head much like a tiny caterpillar popping out of a tiny egg on a large leaf. But I can’t. Because I get it. Eric Carle is an artist and he created these works and gorgeous illustrations (and is still creating, BTW). He should reap the rewards of that effort, genius, and creativity, not me.
So that is the long, and somewhat heartbreaking (for me) tale of why I can’t sell all-things-Eric-Carle and other trademarked goods on my Etsy shop, even though I really, really want to!