When creating a course with Udemy, instructors have an obligation to ensure the content they post does not infringe the intellectual property rights of third parties.
Improper use of someone else’s trademark can lead to legal consequences, including monetary and statutory damages. Additionally, failure to comply with our Terms and Conditions and our Intellectual Property Policy may result in additional consequences, such as the termination of the instructor's course and/or account.
This article outlines what trademarks are and includes answers to frequently asked questions we receive regarding trademarks in relation to Udemy courses.
- What is a trademark and how is it different from a copyright?
- What happens if I accidently use a registered trademark in their course content?
- Can I use Udemy’s trademark(s)?
- Can I use a third-party trademark in my course content?
- Is a disclaimer that “I am not affiliated with the trademark owner” enough to protect me from trademark infringement
- There are many courses using registered trademarks, why is only my course being reported for trademark infringement?
- Is there a way for me to check if something is trademarked?
1. What is a trademark and how is it different from a copyright?
Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of a company’s goods and services and serve to distinguish a company’s goods and services from another, such as product names, company names, logos, and slogans. A trademark is a “source indicator”, which means it tells you where a good or service originates from, this can be in the form of a word (ex. “UDEMY” on our platform), a color (ex. Tiffany Blue), or even a sound (ex. the NBC chimes).
Copyright, on the other hand, protects creative, original, and tangible works, such as novels, movies, software code, photographs, music, or paintings. It protects the whole creative work, and unlike trademarks, does not provide consumers any indication as to the source of the content. When you create original content, such as a course, you obtain the copyright at the moment of creation.
2. What happens if I accidently use a registered trademark in my course content?
Upon receipt of a valid Trademark Infringement Notice, Udemy will provide the instructor with an opportunity to remediate the trademark infringement claim by removing references to the infringing trademark from their course. Failure to remove the trademark(s) from the course will result in the course being disabled from the Udemy platform. To learn more about Udemy’s stance on trademark infringement, please review our Intellectual Property Policy.
3. Can I use Udemy’s trademark(s)?
We are honored and flattered by the enthusiasm instructors have for Udemy and grateful for the trust our community puts in our products and services. In order to protect our brand and the trust that comes with it, we ask that all instructors follow our Trademark Usage Guidelines.
Instructors are allowed to use the UDEMY word mark in order to promote their course. However, please note that all uses of the Udemy Logo will require written permission from Udemy.
For more information, please see Section 6 of our Instructor Terms.
4. Can I use someone else’s trademark in my course content?
Typically, an instructor can use someone else’s trademark in the following circumstance:
- When using a word that is a trademark in its ordinary dictionary meaning (e.g. “I’m eating an apple”; “Donate to save the Amazon rainforest”)
- When making truthful and non-confusing statements about course content (e.g. “In this lesson, we learn how to prepare for various AWS certification exams”)
An instructor may not use someone else’s trademark in order to create an association or mislead or confuse people about a potential affiliation with the trademark owner. In order to avoid this:
- Do not use the trademark at the beginning of your course title (e.g., “Tutorial on cooking with XYZ Olive Oil,” rather than “XYZ Olive Oil recipes,” if the relevant trademark is “XYZ Olive Oil”)
- Clarify that your content is not affiliated with or created by the trademark owner (e.g., “Practice questions to prepare for ABC Final Exam, or “Course on the ABC Final Exam” rather than “ABC Final Exam questions” or “ABC Final Exam” if the relevant trademark is “ABC Final Exam”)
- Consider adding words like “unofficial” to your course title or subtitle to separate yourself from the trademark owner
5. Is a disclaimer that “I am not affiliated with the trademark owner” enough to protect me from trademark infringement?
A disclaimer may help avoid misleading or confusing people about your affiliation with the trademark owner. However, this depends on the use of the trademark.
If you have any questions regarding the legality of using a trademark, we suggest you consult with an attorney.
6. There are many courses using registered trademarks, why is only my course being reported for trademark infringement?
Our marketplace model means we do not review or edit any courses for legal issues. Instructors are responsible for ensuring they have all necessary rights to their content and that they are not infringing or violating any third party’s rights by uploading it.
Udemy is not in a position to offer legal advice or make legal determinations whether an instructor’s content infringes on someone else’s intellectual property.
If a trademark owner believes content on the Udemy platform infringes upon their trademark rights, the trademark owner can fill out our Trademark Takedown Complaint form. Udemy will remove content cited for alleged intellectual property infringement when provided with a report that complies with the Udemy Intellectual Property Policy
Only a trademark owner or their authorized representative may report suspected infringement.
See How do I report a Udemy Course Infringing my Trademark for more information.
7. Is there a way for me to check if something is a registered trademark?
Before creating content on Udemy, we encourage you to do a quick search to see if the term you plan to use in your course content is trademarked. To conduct a trademark search, go to TESS and click on the section labeled, “Search Trademarks.” You can then search the trademark database (TESS).