IP Infringement Violations – Overcoming and Preventing Seller Account Suspensions
If you’re an Amazon Seller the mere thought of an Account Suspension can lead to restless sleep. But it all depends on the specific type of suspension at hand to know if that anxiety will catalyze into a living nightmare or fizzle out and be written off as just a bad dream. One of the most notorious Amazon Account Suspensions, which happens to be on the rise, falls into the category of an IP Infringement Violation. We wanted to shine some light on this overly ominous suspension type in hopes that it helps a handful of weary Sellers navigate back on the track to an account reinstatement, and most importantly, profits. If you are currently facing this type of Amazon Account Suspension and need help, please reach out to us at https://www.appealwizards.com/contact-us/.
First, let’s understand the purpose of IP rights in the context of Amazon Seller Central.
Intellectual Property (IP) is one of the protected matters covered by Amazon’s Policies and Procedures under their Intellectual Property Policy. This necessary policy protects Amazon from legal action if a third-party seller’s listing infringes upon another individual’s IP rights. This infringement can be caused by using a picture or even a word someone has protected ownership of through his/her brand, or it can caused by selling someone else’s product without the proper permissions. For the sake of this article, we’ll hone in on the second case.
The number of Amazon Seller IP Infringement suspensions has increased exponentially mostly due to the increase of novel Amazon Sellers jumping on the ‘opportunity’ to resell the increasingly abundant ‘overstock items’ being offloaded by a wide variety of foreign suppliers. While this all seems like it’d be fair game in the world of e-commerce, most of these foreign companies don’t have the proper authorization from the product owner to unload these overstock items, therefore making it illegal for an Amazon Seller to do the same via Seller Central. For the newer seller or sellers that are used to reselling products on sites with less restrictions, such as Ebay or Etsy, one wouldn’t even think to ask for authorization or to confirm the supplier has done IP, trademark or copyright inspections prior to listing. So why would it be necessary to change up the selling procedures for Amazon?
Simple. An IP Infringement Violation puts you on a fast track towards a Seller Account Suspension. If you find yourself facing an IP Infringement violation or suspension, it is absolutely critical that you respond carefully and quickly (reach out with your particular case here).
The initial IP Violation warning usually comes in the form of a complaint directly from the company/seller whose IP rights were infringed upon. This is where Sellers make their first mistake. Sellers usually respond with their invoices from their suppliers and think the problem will be solved. But this is not the case. Amazon requires a written letter of authorization from the supplier and a retraction of the complaint prior to the account reinstatement. In some cases, both can be very difficult tasks. If you believe your suspension falls into this category, check to see if Amazon sent a notification shortly before the suspension with the email address of the individual who filed the complaint. If they have, you should immediately reach out to that email address and try to figure out what happened. Or reach out to us and we can help you handle this strategically.
While we wish it was as black and white as described above, we’ve had similar cases that turned out to be Patent Infringements, due to the design of the page, while others faced inauthentic complaints and indeed had proper authorization to sell, at least at the time, but new lawsuits against the supplier created new obstacles. Some Sellers will be able to continue with ‘business as usual’ in no time, while others will need to strategize on a new business plan moving forward. Regardless of the situation you are in, we can advise you on the options moving forward and guide you towards the path of least resistance and most revenue.
At the end of the day, Amazon holds the Seller accountable for the items that they purchase and list on Amazon. So while some complaints may be inauthentic, and others leaning towards outright absurd, it’s on you (and possibly us) to explain the situation to Amazon and how you will move forward with respect to the law. So, what can you do to protect yourself?
For starters, ALWAYS get a letter of authorization or written verification from a supplier that verifies they indeed have the rights to sell the items in question. This is something that any legitimate and reputable supplier should have no problem issuing to you upon request. Always keep it in your files in hard copy and electronic (see our previous blog about how to store and keep documentation here).
Secondly, ALWAYS make sure to spend time researching each listing you have, not just for IP issues but many other issues, to verify the following: Is there an IP trademark, copyright or patent on this listing? Do you have all the proper documentation on it (Authorization, invoices, instruction manuals or inserts)? Is it a branded item that needs an application through Amazon to sell? Is it in good working condition? Does my listing description and images match the item and packaging?
If you feel overwhelmed or want some additional support in this matter, we are here to help! We love working with customers to overcome these challenging IP Infringement violations. If we can help, please reach out to us at https://www.appealwizards.com/contact-us/