Understanding Intellectual Property Violations
Brands like Nike, Apple, and Adidas are incredibly well-known and popular, so it’s easy to see why third-party companies would want to sell them on Amazon. However, when selling big brands, it is important to be aware of potential intellectual property violations.
Simply owning a pair of Jordans doesn’t give you permission to sell them for profit online. Amazon has strict Intellectual Property rules that you must follow. If you break these rules, your products can be removed and your account can be suspended. Thankfully, intellectual property rules don’t just protect big brands, they also protect smaller ones. If you think your Intellectual Property has been infringed on, Amazon will stand up for you.
Here’s what you need to know about intellectual property infringements on Amazon.
Amazon’s Intellectual Rules and Regulations
Amazon’s Intellectual Property policy covers copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Copyright is the most common category sellers are penalized for. A copyright protects original works, including but not limited to: movies, photos, books, and songs. The person or company that created the work usually owns the copyright. If you use their work without permission and paying for the copyright holder, you are infringing on that owner’s rights.
Trademarks are words, symbols, or designs that a company uses to establish its brand and make itself recognizable. A great example is the Nike “swoosh.” If you are selling products that are not officially from Nike, but you still use the “swoosh,” you are violating their trademark. If a customer buys a shirt with the “swoosh,” they assume that the shirt will be the same high-quality product they are used to from Nike. If you sell a lower-quality product with the Nike swoosh, then customers will be disappointed. They may blame Nike even though they are not affiliated with the product.
A patent is a form of legal protection for inventions. A patent owner has the sole right to make, offer, and sell that invention. You likely will not face a problem with patent infringement on Amazon, because most companies are halted from producing a patented product long before it hits the market. However, if this infringement is not caught before you start selling on Amazon, your account could be terminated.
What To Do If You Violate Intellectual Property
The first time your account is accused of Intellectual Property Rights Infringement you receive a warning that your product is being removed from Amazon. Once you have received that warning, there are a few steps you can take. The first and most effective step is to reach out to the person who owns the intellectual property. If you come to an agreement with them, they can reach back out to Amazon and retract their complaint.
If you believe that the complaint was a mistake, you can respond directly to Amazon and explain your position. You will be required to demonstrate the authenticity of the product. If you meet Amazon’s standards, your product will be reinstated on the site. If you have received multiple complaints against your shop, you will have to appeal to Amazon to keep your account from being suspended. You will be required to provide either an invoice proving the authenticity of your product, an Order ID that demonstrates the product authenticity, or a letter of authorization from the rights owner.
What To Do If Your Account is Suspended
If you are found liable for Intellectual Property Infringement across multiple products, your account will be suspended by Amazon. However, you can get your account back after taking multiple steps.
First, you will need to provide Amazon a viable “Plan of Action,” that includes the reasons you were selling/using infringed content, the steps you are taking to make sure you are no longer infringing, how you will actively avoid this behavior in the future, and any other information that is relevant to your case. You will upload your Plan of Action directly to your Amazon dashboard for the company to review. If you do not upload a Plan of Action, or fail to meet the standards set in your plan, your account can be terminated permanently.
The best way to avoid Infringement of Intellectual Property Violations is to be vigilant when setting up your listings. Be sure you are selling original products, and using unique photos/videos as descriptors.
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Erin is the Co-Founder of Listing Mirror.