A few months ago, I was introduced to a Chrome Extension called Merch Check.
What is Merch Check, you ask?
Merch Check is a simple Chrome extension that allows you to check the copyright of a word, phrase, or quote without ever having to leave the webpage you are on! Whatever phrase you type in is automatically checked against the uspto.gov (TESS) database of officially registered trademarks.
NOTE: This extension is no longer being sold or updated.
In this review, I’m going to show you how I use it to speed up the process of checking Merch quotes for trademark.
It’s been an absolute game changer for me, and I hope it saves you time as well.
Before I get started…
I wanted to go over a few things.
First of all, it’s extremely rare for me to review individual products like this. In the entire time that I’ve written on Merch Pursuits (which has been about 9 months now), I’ve only written one product (That review, of course, is for Merch Informer.)
I typically write about Merch tips and tricks, income reports, research guides, organizational blueprints, or just my thoughts on Merch by Amazon in general.
I don’t review products I don’t personally use, so you know this must be a worthwhile tool.
What Is Merch Check?
Merch Check is Chrome extension that allows you to check whether a quote or phrase you are about to use is copyrighted – without ever having to leave the webpage you are on! It was created by Jacob Bates and Monte Werle, two well-known and successful Merch by Amazon sellers, so they really understand the industry and the need for a tool like this. These two run one of the fastest growing Merch by Amazon Facebook groups and have created several other tools, extensions, and websites to help other Merch sellers out.
Another free tool I really like of theirs is called MerchText. Check it out if you are interested in saving time writing bullet points and descriptions. Basically, you create “template” bullet points for a certain niche, save it to MerchText, and can paste it into your new listing. Very useful when uploading a lot of the same niche t-shirts. I’ll probably make another post about that extension in the future, but for now…
Back to Merch Check.
As you know, you cannot upload any trademarked content to Merch by Amazon. If you do, there’s a good possibility you’re entire account with become suspended. I’ve been making over $1,000 every month consistently on Merch, after just 9 months on the platform. Trust me – you don’t want to let this opportunity slip away due to a simple trademark error.
To check for trademarks, I typically use the uspto.gov’s TESS (the trademark electronic search system). It looks like it was created in the early 90’s, but it’s easy enough to use once you spend a few minutes on it. It doesn’t accept characters like apostrophe’s or comma’s, so you constantly have to delete any of those after pasting them into TESS.
As you can imagine, a few seconds here and there really start to add up.
With Merch Check, apostrophe’s and comma’s don’t matter. Just paste the phrase into the dropdown extension window, and it quickly let’s you know if it is trademarked or not!
If a phrase does come back as trademarked – a message like this appears:
A bright red ERROR message pops up, and lets you know that it is not okay to use that term on a t-shirt.
I’ve been using Merch Check pretty regularly for the past 3+ months, and can say safely say firsthand that it is a huge time saver for me.
Does it really speed up the process?
For me, it really does!
Not only am I a semi-successful Merch seller myself, but I also sell pre-made Merch by Amazon designs in my MerchReadyDesigns.com shop. I’ve sold over 2,000 designs in the last 6 months (roughly 84 unique designs per week!) on my store, and this tool has been vital to my success.
When selling as many designs as I do, it’s important to work as efficiently as possible. I have a fulltime job, I have a family, I have two kids. I’m sure most of you do, too. Finding timesavers like this is something I’m really good at! I organize my t-shirt designs to quickly upload designs, I’ve found ways to bulk edit t-shirt designs and found a method to quickly check t-shirt reviews. And now, I use Merch Check to simplify the trademark-checking process.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
“An extra 30 seconds per design really isn’t that much time. I don’t mind switching tabs and checking TESS!”
Consider this. For me, at the 500 tier, uploading 70 designs per week, an extra 30 seconds of research time per week equates to 35 minutes. Close to 3 hours per month. Once I’m at the 1,000 tier, it’ll be closer to 6 hours per month.
The thing is, is it’s just wasted time. Literally. There is an easier and faster way to check for trademarks, and all of us should be using it. It doesn’t matter what tier you are on. The goal is to maximize profits on Merch, and reduce the amount of time you are spending managing your account.
Some people use trademarkia.com, I prefer TESS. When it comes to checking Merch t-shirt designs for trademarks, I’ve tried two other methods(other than Merch Check) to speed up the process:
- Find t-shirt quotes in bulk, add them to a spreadsheet, and then check all quotes/phrases for trademarks afterwards.
- Find a quote, check it for trademark, and then add it to a spreadsheet.
I have to admit – Before Merch Check, #1 was a much quicker method for me.
It was way too time-consuming to switch between tabs and check each phrase for trademarks as I did my research. 30 extra seconds per phrase really adds up!It was much easier to just add them all to huge a list and go back later on and delete the ones that were trademarked.
I soon realized that this wasn’t an efficient way to research. I always felt accomplished after coming up with 100 designs for the week, only to realize that a significant portion of those 100 were trademarked. Rather than feeling accomplished, I felt annoyed that I’ve had to come up even more designs for the week.
And that’s not how I want this journey to go. It feels so much more rewarding to add already-been-checked phrases to a spreadsheet. That way, when I do go to create those designs, I already know they are trademark free. I want Merch to feel like a semi-passive journey. I’m always up for simplifying things.
Merch Check is just a much more efficient way of researching Merch shirts. Rather than having to delete design ideas from a list, it’s alot easier to forget about designs if you’ve never added them to your list in the first place.
Merch Check (In Action!)
To start using Merch Check, sign up here. (It’s a one-time fee of $24.95. Just trust me, it’s worth it)
One you sign up, you will be emailed the link to download and install the Google Chrome extension. Once installed, you are good to go!
For example purposes, I’m going to do some research on Google Images. I’ve outlined a few other Merch by Amazon research methods here, if interested.
(I’m using the phrase “funny egg t-shirts” as my Google search term)
Here’s what I see on Google Images:
A quick glance shows two shirts I could use. Awesome! Granted – these two are geared towards Easter, so they wouldn’t apply in July, but as I said, this is an example.
To check for trademarks using Merch Check, just click the icon in the top-right corner:
Once you click it, just type in the phrase! You also can type the phrase into the “Merch Search” box, and it’ll show you how many shirts are currently on Amazon with this phrase.
This is VERY helpful when determining how saturated a niche or quote may be. There’s almost no point in checking a quote for trademark if I see 400+ merch shirts listed on Amazon, ya know?
I’m glad the developers think like I do and added this useful functionality into their extension.
Here’s what it looks like after you type in the phrase:
As you can see, it’s simple, user-friendly, and it just works. The green and red colors quickly let you know if it’s trademarked or not, and they’ve also added a few hotlinks directing to the USPTO.gov website or their Facebook group should you need any additional help with anything.
It does exactly what the name suggests – it checks trademarks for your Merch by Amazon account, to help keep your account active.
For a small one-time cost, it’s more than paid for itself.
Important Trademark Notes
Something I did want to mention – and this isn’t specific to this extension – but if you were to type a really long phrase into TESS such as “Forget the eggs im going hunting”, it may come back as an unregistered trademark. In most cases, that’s great! That means you can safely create a design around this quote.
It may be an unregistered trademark, but something TESS won’t tell right away is that a certain word or portion of that quote may be trademarked.
For instance, when I use Merch Check and TESS, I would probably check the phrases “forget the eggs” and “im going hunting” individually as well. Those could be trademarked.
It’s important to note that this is NOT a flaw with their extension; it simply has to do with the way TESS handles entire queries of words. TESS doesn’t check every single word or combination of words for trademark, it checks whatever text in it’s entirety against their database. If you type in the phrase “Forget the eggs im going hunting”, it will check to see if that phrase in it’s entirety is trademarked. It won’t check “Forget the eggs” or “im going hunting”.
Merch Check reports the same exact information that TESS does. So I just ask that you be diligent in your research. If you think that a portion of a quote may be trademarked, just doublecheck a portion of the quote that before adding to your list.
Anyway, I hope you guys find some value in this post! Like I said, I don’t recommend or write about any products that I don’t personally use, so this is a very unbiased review based on 3+ months of heavy usage.
It’s a one-time cost, it supports the developers, who will hopefully continue to create useful tools and extensions for us, and it makes your life easier when it comes to researching t-shirt designs. Don’t forget to join my mailing list for special tools, tips, and promotions, and check out my resources page for other tools I personally use.
Once you purchase, let me know what you think in the comments below!
Happy Merching –
Get some t-shirt idea inspiration below!