What are the types of IP violations on Amazon?
An IP violation is the stuff nightmares are made of for brand owners selling on Amazon. Here’s the problem, Amazon’s policy on IP complaints is to shoot first and ask questions later. An allegation of an IP violation can result in the immediate suspension of your Amazon seller account.
Though Amazon has legal reasons for enforcing such a harsh policy, IP suspensions on the platform are a controversial topic. Yes, the strict policy has been instrumental in stemming the flow of counterfeit products through the Amazon marketplace. However, black hat sellers and shady manufacturers exploit IP violation rules to eliminate competitors. It gets worse; unscrupulous competitors will file an IP violation if they can’t match your prices.
Understanding Amazon’s IP violation policy is your only protection against baseless complaints. Keep reading to discover the main IP complaints to watch out for when selling on Amazon.
What are the main types of IP violations?
We can all agree that learning about Intellectual Property Rights isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. What’s worse, not all IP complaints are the same. Each violation has its unique conditions. Luckily, Amazon mainly concerns itself with four kinds of IP violations. These are:
A deep understanding of how Amazon interprets each violation is crucial, especially if you’re in a competitive niche. However, it would benefit your brand more if you partnered with a consultant to prevent misinterpretation.
Professional services have the resources to protect your brand from IP violations. Furthermore, competent Amazon consultants have access to an extensive legal network that they can leverage to sort out any violation claims quickly. That said, here’s a detailed breakdown of IP violations on Amazon.
A trademark is a unique design that’s used to distinguish brands. Trademarks come in many forms, such as stylized words, catchy phrases, or unique icons. Unsurprisingly, trademark complaints are commonplace on Amazon since customers generally recognize brands by their trademarks.
Trademark violations on Amazon vary. Not all complaints are the same. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each infringement claim.
- ASIN-Level Complaint: Brands file this complaint against sellers trading merchandise the brand doesn’t manufacture yet bears their trademark. This violation has serious consequences since the rights owner can report the entire ASIN or Detail page for trademark infringement.
- Seller-Level Complaint: Brands and manufacturers file this complaint if an account holder trades a product that infringes on their trademark. While dealing with such a complaint is frustrating, at least your ASIN will remain open for business. However, unlike the ASIN-level claim, this complaint only affects the mentioned offer.
- Product Detail Page-Level Complaint: A brand alleging the use of its trademark on an account that doesn’t sell its products can file this complaint. In such cases, Amazon might suspend the ASIN in question until the matter is resolved.
Copyrights protect original works of authorship. This includes books, movies, video games, and songs. The truth is that copyright violations are a murky field; proving that you’re the original owner of creative work is easier said than done.
Copyright violations on Amazon fall into the following categories:
- ASIN-Level: ASIN-level copyright infringement complaints occur when a brand claims that a trader is selling products that use its copyrighted work to market products that have no association with the copyright holder. This serious claim often results in the suspension of your ASIN.
- Seller-Level: Brands with a copyright dispute with a particular product in your catalog often file seller-level copyright complaints. It’s important to note that the ASIN remains operational since Amazon only suspends the reported offer.
- Image-Level: Brands will file this infringement complaint because you are using a copyrighted image or icon without permission. In this case, Amazon allows the account to remain operational as it resolves the rights owner claims.
One thing is for sure, counterfeit product claims have a bad reputation on Amazon. There are two reasons for this.
First, Amazon is quick to act on counterfeit claims since the last thing the platform needs is a legal suit. This policy results in many unwarranted account suspensions. The second reason is that unscrupulous rights owners often cite exclusive distribution rights as grounds for the counterfeit claim.
As a result, sorting out counterfeit claims by yourself is a bad idea. A consultant will know how to counter baseless exclusive distribution claims and other tactics that shady competitors and manufacturers employ.
Ultimately, a rights owner will file a counterfeit claim on the grounds that a seller is selling counterfeit goods that bear their trademark or copyright works.
A patent is a legal protection that grants inventors the right to control their inventions’ manufacture, distribution, and use. More often than not, patents run for a limited time, depending on the invention type. Patents generally fall into two categories: design patents and utility patents.
Design patents protect the unique aesthetic qualities of an invention. Such patents are rare since they only cover the product’s look and not its functions.
On the other hand, utility patents protect the actual invention. Remember, utility patents don’t offer the same protection as copyrights and trademarks. For example, copyright issued for a video game only protects its creative content.
A utility patent protects new hardware developers might have designed and used while creating the game. In a nutshell, utility patents cover the following cases:
- Article of manufacture
- Protection of product functions
- A new machine
- Improvement of product functions
While patent complaints on Amazon are relatively rare, dealing with one isn’t an open-and-shut case. To start with, the rights owner can report your entire ASIN, resulting in the suspension of your seller account.
Worse, the rights owner can file a legal suit against you. This highlights the importance of partnering with a professional Amazon account management service. Admittedly, this section only covers a brief portion of Amazon’s IP policies. For full details, see this information from Amazon Seller Central.
Intellectual property violations can bring your business grinding to a halt. It’s pointless to complain about Amazon’s harsh IP rights policies. Instead, partner with Riverbend Consulting to make sure you are on the offensive.
Riverbend Consultants will keep your account safe from baseless IP complaints by tackling them immediately after you’re notified. Additionally, we’ll help you avoid IP violations by formulating and executing effective deterrence strategies. Don’t let an IP complaint get you suspended. Get help from us today.
Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where she oversees the firm’s client services team. She has personally helped hundreds of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running. Lesley leverages two decades as a small business consultant to advise clients on profitability and operational performance. She has been an Amazon seller for almost a decade, thanks to her boys (21 and 15) who do most of the heavy lifting.
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