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Heads up if you make and sell butter dishes!

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A friend of mine is having a rough day today, and wanted me to pass on some information that might not be as widely known as it ought to be.

She sells a round, dome style butter dish as part of her regular offerings on Etsy. This morning she was given a trademark infringement notice and had the listing pulled because she had tagged it as a butter bell.

A little research turned up that the name “Butter Bell” is trademarked, and if I’m reading things right, has been since the late 90’s. It got renewed in the last couple of years. They even sued Paula Deen in 2010 for intellectual property infringement when both entities were selling on QVC. It’s a trademark name, not a patent, so it doesn’t appear to apply to a specific form, although Butter Bell sells what I would have called a French butter dish under that name. The upside down kind you’re supposed to put the water in. The ads in my browser for this search showed similar forms from assorted retailers and Etsy, but all called “butter keepers” or some other name.

So if anyone has similar listing names or tags on websites or online marketplaces, you might want to edit your names to save yourself this hassle. This company is obviously willing to use a lawyer. Any of us selling in person might want to educate our customers on the names if there’s the opportunity, because I’m sure lots of people are using butter bell as a search term online.

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  • 1 month later...

I got the same cease and desist letter from the trademark holders.  I call them French butter dishes now on the website.  I think it's a bit ridiculous that a company can trademark a name that's been in common usage for a long long time, but such is the world we find ourselves in.  It would appear that they have someone on staff whose job it is to scour the web for trademark infringers. 

Interestingly, while on a tour through the Rhine region of Germany a few years back, I spotted a local pottery shop and of course had to stop in and meet the potter and look at her work.  In her shop they were called Swiss butter bells.

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