Selling goods online may involve some legal challenges, especially with Amazon. Sellers should prepare for the worst as they would never know when they will need an Amazon Seller Lawyer.
In this blog post, I will discuss how an Amazon seller lawyer can help you, when and when you don’t need legal advice, how much they cost, and what to look for in a lawyer.
Read until the end to find out how to find the best Amazon lawyer for you.
What is an Amazon Seller Lawyer?
An Amazon seller lawyer is an attorney who specializes in all legal aspects of the eCommerce industry, particularly selling on Amazon. They can provide legal advice, assist you in enforcing your rights, and shield you from legal issues.
Furthermore, Amazon lawyers are familiar with Amazon’s selling regulations and procedures and how to implement them effectively. For example, a lawyer like this can assist you with listing and account suspensions.
How Can an Amazon Lawyer Help You?
The e-commerce industry is constantly changing, and not all changes are to the sellers’ advantage. Some Amazon sellers are usually faced with legal issues like trademark registration, account suspensions, etc. It is best to have an Amazon seller lawyer ready in case you have to face any legal issues with them.
Here’s a list of some of the services an Amazon seller lawyer can offer.
Protecting Intellectual Property
An Amazon seller lawyer can help you in various ways when it comes to intellectual property law. Your lawyer can assist you in avoiding copyright violations and protecting your own copyrights, such as stopping competitors from exploiting your product photographs, infographics, and listing descriptions without your permission.
An Amazon seller lawyer can also help with trademark and patent law. The use of logos, (product) designs, and trademarks are some examples of this. For instance, if you own a private label company, you need to hire an experienced attorney to safeguard your brand and designs.
When you engage with an Amazon lawyer, you’ll be well protected from alleged listing hijackers or rival third-party sellers who hop on your private label product listing and sell your product – usually a knockoff – for a cheaper price.
Remember that while selling in other countries, it’s critical to safeguard your intellectual property and protect your Intellectual Property in the countries where your products are created.
For example, you are based in the United States, but your items are manufactured in China and sold in the United Kingdom. Your intellectual property should be protected in all three countries. Local lawyers who are knowledgeable about the legislation of the individual nations and states should be consulted.
It’s also possible that competitors would accuse you of infringing on their trademark or patent rights.
Because Amazon’s system for dealing with such situations is inadequate, they frequently suspend listings and, in some circumstances, whole accounts as a preventive measure. If you’re affected by a suspension like this, you’ll lose tons of money. An Amazon lawyer can assist you in getting your listings or account reactivated at the soonest possible time.
Helping with Settlements and Assisting with Litigation
A lawyer can represent you, defend your business, and enforce your rights if a dispute with a competitor progresses to the point of litigation in court.
For instance, if your listing or account has been suspended due to false accusations and you have lost sales, you may be entitled to compensation.
Preventing and Fighting Listing and Account Suspension
Amazon frequently suspends listings and even the entire seller accounts for no apparent reason other than suspicion. As a result, Amazon will terminate your seller account, and your sales rights will be withdrawn if Amazon believes you have broken Amazon’s terms of service and or applicable laws.
If Amazon removes your selling privileges, it can have a significant financial effect on your business because you won’t be able to make new sales, and Amazon will freeze your seller account funds.
An Amazon seller lawyer understands the language of Amazon and will get to the bottom of why your account was suspended. Most of the time, Amazon will not explain why they suspended your account. Due to this, it would be hard on your part to submit a plan of action and explain your side when you have no idea why your account’s suspended.
It’s not easy to have a listing or account reinstated. In most cases, you only get one chance to explain your side and present your plan of action, so before you try to get your account restored on your own, seeking advice from a professional can help you write the best course of action for your appeal.
An Amazon seller lawyer can not only help you restore your listings or account, but they can also teach you how to prevent future suspensions.
Representing Sellers in Arbitration Proceedings and against Amazon
When you sign a contract with Amazon to sell on the platform, you agree to forgo your right to sue Amazon in court.
You do, however, retain the right to have any legal disputes resolved by arbitration. Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) used to settle disputes outside of court. Arbitration processes have the advantage of being much speedier and less expensive than a traditional court case.
The arbitrator is a neutral third party, such as a retired judge or a lawyer, and whatever they determine, it is final — exactly like a judge’s judgment in court. As a result, Amazon is legally bound to follow the arbitrator’s verdict.
Amazon will attempt to avoid any litigation and also arbitration processes. Your Amazon lawyer will file a request for arbitration on your behalf and devise the best strategy for you. For instance, they may highlight that you’ve always been a dependable seller, that you’ve never gotten any complaints, that you have outstanding evaluations, and so on.
Your attorney will work closely with you to make your arguments persuasive. The issue may eventually be settled in your favor if they design a significant and convincing arbitration with you.
List of other services
Aside from providing legal services for selling online, they can also help you with the following:
Social Media Law
If you use social media to promote your business, such as through a fan page or advertising campaigns, you must adhere to specific rules and guidelines, which your lawyer will explain to you.
Contracts and Warranties
In addition to drafting contracts and warranty conditions for you, your attorney can also evaluate key documents before you sign them.
Legal Texts for Your Website
If you’re selling your goods not just on Amazon but also through your own online store, you’ll need legal texts like Privacy and Return Policies, Terms of Agreement, etc. An e-commerce lawyer can help draft them for you to ensure your rights are protected.
An e-commerce attorney can advise you on the proper corporate entity for your company, for example, LLC, S-Corp, etc.
How Do I Unsuspend my Amazon Account?
Account suspensions ruin all of your hard work in building a successful Amazon FBA business and give your competitors everything they need to outrank you. If you find yourself in this problematic situation, you must act quickly. Every day that you don’t sell is a day that you lose consumers and rank.
The Terms of Service (TOS) on Amazon spell out exactly what merchants can and cannot do. Your account will be frozen if you are found to be in violation. Because it would be impractical to monitor millions of accounts physically, many suspensions are handled by Amazon’s AI bots. This can lead to erroneous suspensions.
If you want to reactivate your Amazon account, here’s what you can do.
- You must respond quickly after receiving an account suspension notice. The appeals procedure is lengthy, and every day you don’t sell is a day your competitors are getting your potential sales.
- Find out the possible reasons why your account has been suspended. Be thorough and provide as many details as possible. No matter how small and irrelevant it may seem, include it. This tiny detail may help Amazon change its decision about your case.
- The next thing you should include in your appeal letter is the steps you’re taking to avoid further suspension. This would depend on why you think your account has been suspended.
For instance, the reason why you think your account was suspended is due to third parties logging into your account. You can include in your appeal that you will never log into your Amazon seller account using public wifi.
- Next, if possible provide evidence to prove that you did not violate any of their policies. It can be email, screenshots, or anything that will help strengthen your case.
- After sending your reply to Amazon and explaining your side, constantly communicates with Amazon Account Health. Take note that Amazon may not give you updates about your appeal. So, best to have constant communication with them to ensure you are always updated on the status.
- If Amazon Account Health may seem hopeless, you may try submitting to the Internal Review Team. This team is independent of Amazon Account Health. The team is in charge of handling suspended accounts that they think are worth checking and reviewing.
- At this point, you have more information to make your case and a bigger chance to have your account reinstated.
When Do You Need an Amazon Seller Lawyer?
Here are some of the most common cases with Amazon that will require you to hire a lawyer.
Infringing on someone’s intellectual property might get you in legal trouble even outside Amazon. It may include trademarks, copyrights, and patents.
A trademark is something that a firm utilizes to set itself apart from the competition. It could be a brand name or logo’s design, term, or symbol.
Copyright is a legal term that pertains to the protection of original works of authorship. Copying product photos from another product detail page to use in other listings is an example of a violation.
Finally, a patent protects an invention from being copied, used, or sold by others. In the United States, there are two sorts of patents: design patents and utility patents.
When you get a notification about intellectual property claims from Amazon, they will also provide the rights owner’s email address. You have the option to contact the rights owner via email to request a retraction of their claim. When this happens, you will need an Amazon seller lawyer to help you resolve the issue.
In the world of online selling, some sellers are not honest with their products and will sell counterfeit or replicas claiming to be authentic. Even on Amazon, some sellers will try to sell fake products, and Amazon takes these things seriously.
While you may not sell counterfeit products, some buyers will claim that they received one or the listed product is different from what was delivered to them. These false claims can do serious damage to your business. This is where an Amazon seller lawyer can help you prove that there is no truth in all these claims.
Selling of Illegal Products
Amazon sellers must comply with all the regulations, laws, and policies regarding products sold on Amazon. Selling unsafe, restricted, and illegal products is prohibited.
However, there are times when sellers get too excited about their discovery of how and where to find wholesale products they can sell on Amazon that they fail to check if they are allowed to do so. Amazon has no tolerance for sellers failing to follow this policy.
This is also the reason why they launched the Amazon Project Zero and Amazon Brand Registry to fight unlawful sales.
Sometimes, it could be the fault of your chosen supplier or distributor rather than your own. However, because the illicit product was purchased from you, Amazon will suspend you if they find out. They can remove any listings that offer the prohibited goods or suspend your entire account.
When faced with this unfortunate circumstance, seeking help from an Amazon seller lawyer can save you from a lot of trouble, including criminal and civil penalties.
Copyright, Trademark, or Patent Registration
Amazon strongly advises consulting a lawyer first when it comes to intellectual property issues. To avoid future intellectual property concerns, you should seek legal guidance from an Amazon seller lawyer even before looking for wholesale products to sell on Amazon.
Filing for a copyright, trademark, or patent can be tedious, and many sellers would rather avoid it to begin selling immediately. However, failing to do so will mean you won’t be able to join the Amazon Brand Registry, which protects your brand against cyberthief merchants.
Furthermore, you can consult with an Amazon seller lawyer to develop a strategy for dealing with unscrupulous Amazon sellers.
What Violations Don’t Require a Lawyer?
There are several suspensions or violations that can be reinstated with just a strong POA and no legal guidance, such as the following:
Multiple Accounts Creation
Multiple Amazon seller accounts creation is prohibited on Amazon. Because of this, you should never give out credit card numbers or IP addresses to anyone. You’ll never know if that person will soon start their own Amazon Seller Account. If they use your IP address and credit card numbers to create their account, you could be in trouble. Creating a new account while you are suspended is also included in this category.
Violation of Amazon Review Policy
In case you’ve violated the Review Policy of Amazon, instead of pointing fingers, Amazon prefers people who recognize their mistakes and work to avoid making them again. You can employ this strategy by just confessing on your POA that you have broken Amazon’s review policies.
Violation of Other Amazon Policies
It’s not only the violation of Amazon’s Review Policy that may get you suspended. Violating every policy in their seller code of conduct may lead to account suspension. However, you won’t need an Amazon seller lawyer to help you get out of this situation.
Abuse of Product Reviews
When faced with Amazon seller feedback or product reviews abuse suspension, it is best to appeal for policy violation unless you plan to highlight consumer protection laws that you’ve breached in misleading the public about the quality or amount of positive reviews you obtained.
Recognize what you need to about the nature of the offenses that led to your account suspension, and then put in place all proactive measures to ensure compliance in the future. Because you weren’t suspended for breaking the law, you don’t need a lawyer to persuade Amazon of your commitment to policy compliance.
Several suspended sellers have now reported not receiving their final payouts after waiting 90 days after their accounts were closed. Amazon will mention some reasons for account suspension, such as violating their “Seller code of conduct” or “Illicit, fraudulent activities,” such as a failure to verify a valid supply chain.
Unfortunately, unless you know how to escalate within payments teams, you won’t be able to retrieve that money outside of the arbitration procedure and a long period of waiting.
As of now, it seems that no seller has successfully challenged Amazon’s Terms of Services regarding Payments Holds.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Amazon Lawyer?
When hiring an Amazon Seller Lawyer, it is best to know how much they will cost you, when they’ll expect the payment, and how they’ll charge you.
Lawyers often charge by the hour, but an increasing number of them are also offering flat fees for specific services, which means you only pay the amount you agreed on, regardless of how many hours your attorney works on your case.
Like insurance plans, pre-paid legal plans are also available from some law firms. You pay a fee once a month in exchange for legal assistance when needed and regular compliance and account health checks.
It is hard to put a specific number on how much it would cost to hire a lawyer because rates vary. Some may charge $25/hour up to a hundred dollars or even more an hour. However, most Amazon Seller Lawyers offer fair prices.
To give you an idea, the costs usually depend on several factors, including:
Drafting a plan of action and sending it to Amazon, for example, is less expensive than undergoing an arbitration process.
Lawyers in high-cost cities are frequently more expensive than lawyers in low-cost cities.
Complexity of the Case
You may have to pay your lawyer more money depending on how challenging your case is. If your lawyer is paid by the hour and spends more time on your case, expect to pay a hefty price.
Most people are unaware of how rapidly legal expenses may build up and the other costs that can arise. As a result, it’s critical that you discuss the charges with your lawyer openly and honestly. Make sure you particularly inquire about any additional fees that may be incurred.
It is also occasionally feasible to bargain with lawyers regarding their prices, resulting in you paying less. For instance, inquire if any of the jobs could be completed by a junior lawyer or paralegal. You may be able to cut the fees by using them because they have a lower hourly charge.
If you are paying your Amazon seller lawyer by the hour, you may save money by keeping your conversations brief and to the point. Only contact your lawyer if you have a question about your case and avoid small talks.
The majority of Amazon seller lawyers provide a free initial consultation. You present your case briefly and give a general description of your case during this conversation. The lawyer can then provide you with additional information and determine how they can assist you.
What to Look For in an Amazon Lawyer?
You would want to make sure that the lawyer you hire will win the case and at the same time will not cost you too much money. Apart from that, you also need to be careful as some lawyers can do more harm than good when you hire the wrong one.
Here are some things to look for when scouting for an Amazon seller lawyer.
Specialization and Experience
Each lawyer usually focuses on a specific area of law and only takes on matters that fall inside that subject. As a result, your Amazon lawyer should have relevant experience with cases like yours.
Your attorney should be a true specialist in the industry with plenty of expertise when it comes to intellectual property matters. A lawyer who has primarily handled fraud matters may not be the best person to defend you in an IP issue. The quality of the lawyer’s work is more important than the number of cases they have handled.
Additionally, you should always retain the services of a local Amazon attorney. Laws and Amazon rules differ from one country to another and even from one state to the next.
For instance, you live in the United States but sell in the United Kingdom and are involved in a legal issue with a British competitor. In that case, you also need to employ a British lawyer who is knowledgeable about British law.
One of the traits or characteristics you should look for when hiring an Amazon seller lawyer is organizational skills. A good lawyer is always organized, keeps track of all deadlines, and never forgets one.
The importance of meeting deadlines in legal issues, particularly in court and arbitration processes, cannot be overstated. You risk losing the entire case if documents are not provided on time or an objection is not filed before the deadline.
Does Not Make Promises
No lawyer can anticipate the outcome of a case. They should never guarantee that a legal case will end in your favor, even if they can estimate how good your chances are based on their experience. This is a major red flag if a lawyer assures you that you will undoubtedly win your case.
Has a Sense of Urgency and Communicates Well
A good lawyer should have a sense of urgency and should be there right away when you need their help. If your lawyer takes days to contact you and to take legal action, you may have already lost dozens of customers and hundreds of transactions. You require someone who genuinely cares about your issues and makes time to address them.
Communication skills are a good indicator of an attorney’s proficiency in general. They should be able to update and make sure you are always aware of the present situation and what is being done to defend your rights.
Transparent and Fair with Pricing Structure
A smart lawyer will always tell you how much his services will cost. If they don’t charge a flat price and instead charge by the hour, they should be able to inform you ahead of time how many hours they’ll need to work on your case.
It’s a red flag if a lawyer adds unexpected extra hours to his bill or charges any additional fees that you were not notified about in advance.
Honest and Straight to the Point
As previously said, it is critical not to waste time with lawyers, especially those who are paid by the hour. Your Amazon seller lawyer should be aware of this as well and should avoid unnecessarily prolonging conversations with you in order to bill you for extra time.
Furthermore, time is of the essence in intricate matters. Therefore your lawyer should act swiftly.
How to Find the Right Amazon Lawyer?
Finding the right Amazon Seller Lawyer is essential if you want to keep doing business with Amazon and don’t want everything you’ve worked hard to go to waste. Here are some tips on how to find the best lawyer for you.
Unless someone has referred an attorney to you, the first thing you need to do is to research. While there will be tons of lawyers online, you can narrow down your research by searching by location and areas of expertise.
Remember that it is best to start with lawyers within your area for an easier and faster transaction. Try to list at least five lawyers or more and see which of them will be the best to handle your case.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you can now call those lawyers on your list. While it is common in the Amazon sector to have a free initial consultation, you should inquire ahead of time if the first meeting will be charged. You’ll be able to avoid unpleasant and pricey surprises this way.
You should be able to describe your current circumstances and why you require their assistance during the conversation. Make sure to inquire about the lawyer’s education, experience, fees, and any queries you may have about your case.
Prepare your questions so that you won’t forget anything during the meeting. To give you an idea, here are some questions you need to ask your potential Amazon seller lawyer.
- How long have you been practicing in the relevant field, and how much experience do you have?
- How much time can you spend on my case?
- Have you handled a similar case before? If yes, how did it go? How many cases have you handled?
- Will another person be working on my case?
- When and how do you think you can resolve my problem?
- Can you provide an estimate for how much it will cost me?
- What are the inclusions on your offer?
- Should I expect additional costs?
- How often should we talk about the case and receive an update?
- Any documents I need to prepare?
Pay attention to what they’re saying as well as how they’re saying it, and take notes throughout the meeting so you can recall the topic later. If you interview more than one lawyer, taking notes makes it easier to compare them.
Remember that you’re not obligated to work with them after the initial meeting, so if you don’t like their answers or get the impression that you won’t get along, you may still look into other choices.
Ask for References
One way to get an idea of how a lawyer works is by asking for references. While most likely, they will provide previous clients who they know will recommend them and give them positive feedback.
Try to check deeper about the lawyer’s work and reputation by asking other sources apart from the references they provided. Take time to do reference-checking as you don’t want to hire the wrong one.
You can also ask in Amazon facebook groups, Quora, Reddit, and other online platforms for recommendations. Maybe some of them have hired one of the Amazon seller lawyers you’re eyeing and they can give you insights into how they work.
Consider the Lawyer’s Professionalism
When I say professionalism, it’s not only the way the lawyer presents himself and how he communicates. This includes being on time and well-prepared during meetings, working efficiently and always looking after your best interest, returning all your calls, being organized, and behaving appropriately are just some ways to show their professionalism.
Having your account suspended or facing any legal issues with Amazon can damage your business. Luckily, there are Amazon seller lawyers that can help you get through this. It’s just a matter of finding the right lawyer for you.
Has your account been suspended? Share your experience in the comments below and let us know what you did.