May 18, 2020

Intellectual property violations on Amazon run the gamut, but all put your seller account at risk

By: Kayla Forrest

Intellectual property rights are taken seriously. Why? Because intellectual property violations on Amazon can turn into a legal issue. 

When it comes to Intellectual Property (IP), Amazon protects itself. And to protect itself, Amazon gives the benefit of the doubt to the alleged Rights Owner. If a Rights Owner (RO) made a complaint that their IP was violated, and Amazon did not act, Amazon would be legally liable. 

Unfortunately, this creates terrible headaches for Amazon sellers who are often incorrectly warned – and even suspended – over trademark, copyright, patent and counterfeit claims. 

Intellectual property
Standard IP complaints on Amazon

Trademark is one of the most commonly filed IP complaints. A trademark is a legally registered symbol or word(s) that is used for representing a product or company. If an RO has a registered and active trademark, and is being shown on someone else’s detail page or product, enforcement can occur.

This can also happen with a Common Law Trademark (unregistered trademark). Amazon will warn sellers for Common Law Trademarks when the trademark can be verified. This means the trademark must be known in the region it is being reported, and it must be associated with the RO.

Copyright infringement means that the RO’s work is being used without permission. This applies to a picture, book, film, song and many other forms of media. On Amazon, this complaint is more likely to occur with images. If an RO can show that there is a violation by providing information about the work or the copyright registration number, the seller will be warned. Technically speaking, the media does not need to be registered at all.

There are two types of patents that can be reported to Amazon. These are design patent and utility patent. To put it simply, a design patent is for the visual qualities of a product. A utility patent will protect the functionality of a product. A valid, registered and active patent must match a supposedly infringing product. Dealing with a patent infringement issue can be very difficult. It may be best to seek legal advice if the situation occurs.

The most common IP complaint: counterfeit

The most common infringement type that a seller may face is for counterfeit product claims. For an RO to report a counterfeit claim, they must have a registered and active trademark. The trademark must be seen on the product, and the RO must be claiming the products are fake or counterfeit. Frequently, an RO will declare exclusive distribution when supporting their counterfeit claim. Amazon clearly states that they will not support an exclusive distribution claim. Therefore, it would be useful for sellers to look out for exclusive distribution when attempting to contact an RO.

What to do when IP complaints are filed

In conclusion, all of these intellectual property claims can cause headaches for sellers. But with the right knowledge, you can gain reinstatement for your account or ASIN. Even though Amazon is looking to protect itself and the RO, all sellers deserve a chance to appeal infringement warnings. Proper advice can help the seller move past the issue and prevent future enforcements.

Most importantly, don’t ignore IP complaints. Address them head-on. If Amazon thinks you are not serious about these and other warnings, you are at much higher risk of losing your selling privileges — maybe permanently.

Need to talk about intellectual property violations on Amazon issue in your account? Give us a call 877-289-1017 or visit our website.

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