Q: Hi, I'm a designer. I had an account on a "print on demand" platform www.teepublic.com, I created the designs and the co

My account was terminated and my commission not paid out, they claim it's due to my account being terminated because of intellectual property infringement. Is that legal, for them to keep the money I earned?

1 Lawyer Answer
Sean Erin Serraguard
Sean Erin Serraguard
Answered

A: Whether this is legal or not will depend on the terms of the contract that you signed when you used their services. The terms are on their website (https://www.teepublic.com/terms). I have not reviewed their terms, and the link is for your convenience. This is not a full legal analysis of their contract, nor should you rely on it as such.

However, if you submitted anything that you didn't have rights to, you were likely in violation of their terms immediately upon submission. Assuming TeePublic's claim of IP infringement to be true, you didn't have rights to the design (i.e., someone else's IP), meaning that your contribution to the overall sale was not yours to contribute.

From my current understanding of their business model, TeePublic actually made the shirt and the shirt was sold through their website. The payment you would have received was likely a commission given solely for the design (the IP) and and they are claiming the design wasn't yours (i.e., you infringed someone else's IP). As such, I suspect that they don't owe you anything for the commission under the contract (I'd need to review to determine the actual terms). Of course, you'd be welcome to argue that the design was your intellectual property, appeal as required under their contract, and possibly move forward with a breach of contract claim against TeePublic.

I'd advise you to review the contract and your rights to any profits with a seasoned intellectual property attorney.

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