Empowering Merchants: How Processors Can Help Underwrite Intellectual Property Risks in Online Marketplaces

Navigating the Legal Landscape After the Brandy Melville vs. Redbubble Case

Online marketplaces such as Etsy, Zazzle, and Redbubble have redefined the way we shop and connect with independent artists and designers. While these platforms offer immense opportunities, they also present challenges, particularly when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights. In this digital age, it’s crucial for processors to step in and help their merchants navigate the complex terrain of intellectual property, as exemplified by the Brandy Melville vs. Redbubble case.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals made a groundbreaking decision in August 2023 in the case of Brandy Melville vs. Redbubble, clarifying the legal standards that apply to online marketplaces in cases of contributory infringement. This ruling marked a significant turning point in the ongoing battle to balance brand owners’ rights with the responsibilities of online platforms.

One of the most critical takeaways from this case is the requirement for plaintiffs to establish specific knowledge of trademark infringement to hold a defendant liable for contributory infringement. In simpler terms, brand owners must prove that online marketplaces were aware of the infringement happening on their platforms.

The court introduced the concept of “willful blindness,” emphasizing that merely having general knowledge of infringement is not enough to establish contributory infringement. To hold an online marketplace accountable, it must be demonstrated that the platform deliberately avoided addressing trademark violations, showing a conscious effort to evade responsibility.

However, the court also acknowledged the significance of proactive efforts by online marketplaces to combat infringement. Even if they can’t entirely eliminate all infringing listings, platforms that take substantial steps to address the issue can reduce their liability.

So, how can processors support their merchants in light of these legal developments? Here are some strategies:

  1. Educate Merchants: Processors can provide their merchants with resources and training on intellectual property rights, helping them understand the risks and consequences of infringement.
  2. Monitoring Tools: Develop or integrate monitoring tools that can help merchants identify potential trademark violations within their product listings.
  3. Reporting Mechanisms: Assist merchants in setting up user-friendly reporting mechanisms so they can quickly report any suspicious listings to the platform.
  4. Legal Guidance: Offer access to legal experts or resources who can provide guidance on trademark issues and help merchants respond to infringement claims effectively.
  5. Terms and Conditions: Collaborate with legal experts to ensure that the platform’s terms and conditions clearly outline the consequences of intellectual property infringement and the reporting process.
  6. Regular Updates: Keep merchants informed about the latest developments in intellectual property law and how it may affect their businesses.


In conclusion, the Brandy Melville vs. Redbubble case has reshaped the legal landscape for online marketplaces, emphasizing the need for specific knowledge of trademark infringement to establish contributory liability. Processors have an essential role to play in helping their merchants navigate these complexities and protect their intellectual property rights. By offering education, tools, and resources, processors can empower their merchants to thrive in the digital marketplace while ensuring compliance with the law. This collaborative effort will ultimately contribute to a more balanced and responsible online commerce environment.

Just as Global Legal Law Firm comprehends the intricate landscape of electronic payment processing and its associated regulations, we’ve also delved deep into the complexities of the financial world and the potential risks involved, especially in the context of payment processing. Our mission parallels our approach to electronic payment processing litigation: to provide valuable insights and expert guidance. In a financial industry that must navigate the uncharted waters of Payment Processors our seasoned experts are here to support you. Instead of venturing into this evolving landscape unassisted, trust in our expertise to be your guiding light. Our commitment is to ensure that you remain up to date in this dynamic environment, securing your interests at every turn.

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