As an Amazon Seller, be prepared to receive intellectual property right complaints, even if you source your products directly from a distributor or manufacturer.
Even Amazon sellers that purchased their products directly from the manufacturer receive intellectual property complaints from the manufacturer themselves sometimes, as part of a broad attempt to police the sale of their brand on Amazon. These manufacturers are impermissibly attempting to use Amazon’s Report Infringement page to enforce their distribution agreements.
Amazon’s Policy: Information Sellers Must Know
Make sure you review all of Amazon’s policies on infringement. Specifically, MAP pricing issues and selective distribution agreements are not enforced by Amazon, because as stated on Amazon’s Report Infringement Page. It is an agreement between the suppliers and retailers. If you are selling an authentic product in the exact condition as listed on Amazon, your business practice likely does not constitute intellectual property infringement. Rather your listing is likely consistent with Nominative First Use and The First Sale Doctrines which protect your rights as a reseller. Essentially, if your products are legitimately sourced and sold in an unaltered condition, you are protected by the law provided in these doctrines. However, you should be prepared to fight these intellectual property complaints before they arise.
The Importance of Protecting your Brand as an Amazon Seller
Even if you are a brand owner properly registered within Amazon’s Brand Registry, you can still receive various intellectual property right complaints. To avoid complaints and protect your own intellectual property rights, you should register your trademark, copyright and/or patent in all of the countries in which you wish to sell your product. For example, if you are the brand owner, and or manufacturer, and hold all the proper documentation concerning your intellectual property in China but are trying to sell your products in the United States, you should register your intellectual property rights in the United States. Why? Because when your product becomes successful and gains popularity, if you have not registered your intellectual property in the United States, a competitor can claim your registered trademark, copyright, and/or patent by filing first. If the competitor can successfully get these intellectual property applications registered in the United States and you then decide to sell there, you will become the infringer according to the law.
Therefore, if you are plan to source your products from a different country, make sure you have filed for intellectual property protection in each country you wish to sell in.
Purely Baseless Complaints
Imagine you are a seller. You have all the proper intellectual property registrations for your brand in each country where you are promoting your e-commerce business. However, even though you have taken all the proper channels to protect your brand and intellectual property rights, you are still susceptible to baseless intellectual property complaints on Amazon. We have seen many cases in which a baseless intellectual property rights complaint is filed over a deceptively similar trademark. The difference between the two trademarks was literally one character space between two words. Due to this rights owner complaint, our client was suspended from selling their brand owned product until this dispute was resolved with the other rights owner. Although, we ended up winning this case and getting the account reinstated, the battle for reinstatement still took a toll on our client’s business.
Takeaways for Amazon Sellers
Intellectual property complaints can be intimidating for Amazon sellers. If you do receive an intellectual property complaint, remember to be prepared to protect yourself. Properly registering your intellectual property rights provides a line of defense against infringers, but it is up to sellers to enforce these rights. The team at Rosenbaum Famularo, PC has both the experience and know-how to help any Amazon seller with their battle against baseless complaints.