Intellectual Property Complaints on Amazon:
As an Amazon Seller, it is significant to be aware that there has recently been an increase in Amazon complaints connecting to intellectual property. If a seller sees that you are selling the same product as them, they may consider it is a fake product and file a complaint. Manufacturers and big brand name companies have been filing more complaints on other seller’s accounts. If they see you are selling a brand name product at a low price than they are, chances are they will file an Intellectual Property complaint against you.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property can be divided into three categories: Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents.
- A trademark is the security of a name, symbol, or design, which is used to recognize source goods or services. A sub-part of a brand is a trade dress, which is “the general appearance and image in the marketplace of a product or a commercial enterprise. For a product, trade dress usually comprises packaging and labeling. For an enterprise, it normally comprises design and decor.”
- Copyright law protections works of original authorship, for example, novels, poems, or musical composition.
- Patents offer the safety of ideas such as inventions or technological processes.
Why is there is a rise in Intellectual Property Complaints for Amazon Sellers?
Amazon.com does not observe their platform for IP infringement. Unless an infringement is particularly brought to their notice, Amazon will provide continued access to their sellers. Though, Amazon does allow customers and rights owners to have the ability to file a complaint if a product seems inauthentic or fake due to the bad quality of the product. Once Amazon is informed, they will remove the listings and suspend the account holder to assure Amazon is not liable for the claimed infringement. Amazon does not care whether these complaints are legal or just an attempt by one seller to eradicate competition.
If there is a legal IP issue, there is no point in using Amazon straightly. Customers, manufacturers, and sellers have tried to file suit against Amazon, only to find that they were banned from recovery against Amazon because Amazon is just the platform, not the party who is actually infringing. Moreover, sellers on the Amazon online platform have agreed to binding arbitration under the seller’s terms and conditions when they registered as a seller on Amazon. This means any issues that happen between the seller and Amazon must be handled through arbitration.
Ultimately manufacturers, as well as other sellers, took notice of the way Amazon’s policy for answering to IP complaints. They know that once Amazon is reminded of an infringement claim, they will instantly remove the respective listing and the user’s seller account after an easy inquiry is made as to the authenticity of the claim. This method is efficient, it is instant, and it is now an ordinary loophole for manufacturers, brand name companies, and competing sellers to abuse in order to instantly eliminate competition.
Amazon.com’s aim is not to stop infringement on their platform, but rather, to secure themselves and their company from more liability litigation. That is why they are so eager to remove a listing or user based on little evidence. It then becomes the party who was bullied to conform to Amazon that they are selling legitimate, authentic products that do not infringe on anyone’s IP.
What can you do as a new Amazon Seller to secure yourself?
In order to secure your intellectual property rights, it is vital that you take preventive measures before selling on Amazon. If your likely intellectual property product is not already registered, then it is in your best interest to copyright or trademarks your brand and logo. This investment of time is significance it if you wish to keep your photos and descriptions secured, particularly on Amazon, where many are looking to “piggy-back” or hijack the next hot selling item. To make clear that your listing is not infringing upon another’s intellectual property rights, you can research whether or not a product is already protected by searching on upsto.gov.
What if somebody has already filed an IP complaint on your Amazon account?
Any claim of intellectual property infringement will result in the suspension of your seller account by Amazon. Initially, you will require to contact the seller or company who has made the allegation. Many companies have taken the essential precautions and have correctly registered their IP. These companies will have systems in place to monitor for infringement, and sometimes people who are legally selling authentic products get caught in the net. In many cases, the IP rights are legal, but the allegation is not.
Many complaints arise where your account is selling a product that may look alike to others, but those exact similarities are not adequate enough to constitute infringement. You will probably require an attorney to demonstrate to the company that your product is unique, original, and not infringing on anyone’s IP rights. If the rights owner does not keenly withdraw its complaint, it is unlikely that Amazon will reinstate your selling privileges for that item.
There are several times where the complaints are unjustifiable. Companies and manufacturers will also file IP complaints on your account if you are selling a similar product, just at a lesser price. These types of complaints are without merit, frivolous, and an abuse of the Amazon platform’s implemented policy. You will require to give your invoices to Amazon that clearly demonstrates that you purchased the product from a genuine seller and that there are no IP violations whatsoever.
Many companies wrongly claim infringement on Amazon Seller accounts. If this happens, you will require to bring to the complaining party’s attention that it is their burden to verify there was an actual infringement. For example, for Patent Infringement, there is an “All Elements Rule” that needs each claim limitation to be confirmed by the applicant who is alleging the infringement. If the company alleging the infringement cannot confirm that you have met all of the requirements to confirm infringement, then there is no infringement, plain and easy. Once it has been established that there was no basis for an infringement claim, the complaining party will generally agree to eradicate the comment. You will require to have the complaining party state to Amazon, in writing, that the issue is resolved and they are eager to withdraw their complaint. A copy of this document should be attached to your thorough plan of action along with invoices verifying your item has not infringed on anyone’s IP rights.
What if you are being “bullied”?
Bigger companies take amazing measures to secure their intellectual property rights, and some of these efforts are bad and prohibited. This is a type of trademark bullying. These “bullies” take their preventive measures far beyond the threat of litigation. They will file suit against anybody they think to be their competition, whether or not their allegations hold merit. Litigation needs a devotion of time, money, and effort; and many competitors do not have the wealth to fight. Companies are bullying litigation not only for actual infringement but in situations where logos may be vaguely same. Companies are also filing suit when they find a smaller company is selling their product but at a lower cost. The reseller is selling a genuine product, but the company does not mind. They wish them removed, and they will try to abolish their competition at any price whether or not they are actually committing trademark infringement. This is trademark bullying, it is wrong, and it is happening every day.
How can the company protect themselves against Trademark Bullying?
A company who wants to fight against trademark bullying will first require to establish that they did not infringe on anyone’s intellectual property rights. If they are selling a similar product, but at a cheaper cost, they will require to provide adequately detailed invoices that prove they are selling an authentic product. Companies do not like illegal resellers because they will often sell the product at an unwanted low cost. Although, unless the company is a party to a Minimum Advertising Price (MAP) agreement, these companies have done nothing officially wrong as they were not obligated to sell at a more price and the products themselves are genuine. In such a situation, any threat of litigation alleging IP infringement is trademark bullying.
What if the complaint is legitimate?
Occasionally you are not aware that you are infringing on another party’s IP right. If you are caught infringing on an IP, you will require to instantly remove that listing and never sell that particular product again, unless you obtained it from an authorized reseller. Amazon will suspend your account if another party claims there is an infringement. Your subsequent step is to write a comprehensive plan of action that acknowledges your error, how you corrected the error and the changes you have made in your business practice to guarantee this will never happen again.
Amazon.com is an outstanding resource for businesses to sell their products on a global platform. Yet, these businesses require to protect themselves from intellectual property infringement on their products and they also require to be practical so that they never infringe on another party’s IP rights. It takes time and hard work, but it is probably to keep your Amazon account active and maintain a successful business.