It can be terrifying for Amazon sellers to receive an IP complaint. While it does not always result in an immediate account suspension, sellers need to take it seriously and as much as possible, avoid an IP claim. But what is an IP complaint Amazon exactly?
In this article, I will explain what IP means, Amazon’s IP policy, what is an IP complaint, and how to file a notice of infringement. I will also discuss what will happen to you if you get one and how to respond to an IP claim.
Be sure to read until the end to get some tips on how to avoid getting an IP complaint in the future.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Property (IP) is described as anything that deals with the creations of the human mind. It can be inventions, designs, symbols, artistic and literary works, images, and names that are used in commerce.
IP can be divided into three categories: patents, copyright, and trademarks. People can benefit financially or earn recognition for what they created or invented.
Copyright protects the creator of original works of authorship, such as musical compositions, poems, and novels.
Patents provide legal protection for ideas like technological processes or inventions.
Trademarks provide legal protection for symbols, names, or designs to identify services and goods.
What is the Intellectual Property Policy for Amazon Sellers?
When selling on Amazon, sellers are expected to follow all Amazon policies, including the IP policy.
- Sellers are expected to comply with all local, state, and federal laws and Amazon policies related to products and product listings you sell within the platform.
- Sellers should not violate any IP rights of a brand and other rights owners.
Violating the policy may lead to legal consequences and loss of selling privileges.
How Does Amazon Enforce IP Infringement?
If you receive a warning or notice for infringement and you are sure that it was an error, you can dispute the error or make an appeal. The infringement notice will come from Amazon through email.
Amazon sellers are obliged to follow their policy and the law by enforcing the IP policy. Below are the different types of warnings or notices and how sellers can take action and respond to them.
For a product that you have no listing or never listed on Amazon
You can reply to the notification and inform Amazon that you have no listing or have never listed the product on the infringement notice. Amazon will investigate it to ensure that it was indeed an error.
If you have a relationship with the rights owner
If you have proof that you have an agreement that lets you use the IP mentioned in the notice or you have a license to use the IP, you can reach out to the rights owner who complained and request to retract the notice. Once Amazon receives a retraction from the rights owner, your content can be reinstated.
Counterfeit or trademark infringement on a packaging or product
On your selling account, access the Account Health Dashboard and provide an Order ID or invoice that shows the authenticity of the reported product. Amazon will review the notice, and your product can be reinstated.
Counterfeit or trademark infringement on the product detail page
If you’re sure that it was an error, you can submit an appeal through the Account Health page and ensure that you provide supporting documents such as licensing agreement or letter of authorization.
You can also change the product detail page to make sure that it doesn’t infringe the trademark and send an appeal through the Account Health page.
You can reply to the notification and provide specific reasons why it was sent in error. Alternatively, you can submit a court order indicating that the declared patent is unenforceable and invalid or that your product is non-infringing.
For copyright infringement, you may submit a counter-notice to the email provided in the copyright warning. The following details should be included in your counter-notice.
- It should have your physical signature. An electronic signature is also allowed. To do this, type your name with an indication that it is meant to be a signature.
- You should also identify which material has been removed or the access that was disabled. Provide the specific location where the material was used before it was removed.
- You also need to provide a statement under penalty of perjury that you believe that the material that was disabled or removed was misidentification or an error.
- Personal information like your name, telephone number, and address should be provided. A statement that you authorize to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the judicial district where your seller address is located and a statement that you accept service of process from the person who sent the notification of the copyright infringement claim.
Your Amazon selling account may be suspended if you receive several notices of IP infringement. You can provide an Amazon appeal letter indicating your Plan of Action and request to reinstate your account.
It is important that you write a thorough Plan of Action so that you will have a higher chance of getting approval for reinstatement. You can submit your Plan of Action by replying to the account suspension notice you received or through your account dashboard.
What is an IP Complaint Amazon?
An IP complaint on Amazon is when a brand owner contacts Amazon to report an Intellectual Property infringement issue for a particular product. However, not all Amazon IP complaints are valid, and sometimes they are sent in error.
It is also essential to know that IP claims are different from brand restrictions and counterfeit claims. When you sell on Amazon, some categories, products, and brands are gated, and you will not be allowed to sell them unless you go through the approval process.
However, even if you become eligible to sell the product, it is still possible for you to receive an IP claim.
When to Seek Legal Help?
Sellers would need an Amazon seller lawyer to protect their intellectual property. For instance, an eCommerce lawyer can help protect your copyright to ensure that your competitors will not use infographics, product photos, and listing descriptions without your knowledge and approval.
In addition to that, you may need to seek legal advice when your account has been shut down or suspended due to an IP complaint. A lawyer would be able to help you draft an appeal to Amazon. It is also best to talk to a lawyer if you have questions about your IP rights and other people’s IP rights.
How to File a Notice of Infringement on Amazon?
If you believe that another seller has used your registered trademark or copyright, you can file a notice of infringement on Amazon. To do this, you need to log in to your Amazon seller account to access Amazon’s Report Infringement form.
IP rights owners can use this to notify Amazon of alleged IP infringements. However, only the IP rights owner and their agents can use the Amazon Report Infringement form.
If you are not the IP rights owner, you should report through the appropriate channel. In case you believe that you sent the Amazon Report Infringement form by mistake and would like to retract your complaint, you can use the Retraction Form to do it.
Sellers who are rights owners with a registered trademark may be qualified to enroll their brand in the Amazon Brand Registry.
What Happens if You Get an IP Claim on Amazon?
When you receive an IP claim for the first time, your account may or may not be suspended right away. However, your selling privileges for a specific ASIN will be suspended. You will receive a warning that one of your products will be removed from Amazon.
One of the things you can do when you receive one is to contact the person who filed the complaint or who owns the IP. Try your best to come up with an agreement with the IP owner. If they agree, they can contact Amazon again and retract their IP claim.
If you think the complaint was sent by mistake, which is very common, you may reach out to Amazon directly and file an appeal. Then, follow the steps to take mentioned above depending on the IP complaint you received.
Receiving several IP claims may lead to account suspension, seriously affecting your account health. So make sure to avoid receiving one, and in case you did get an IP claim, make sure you respond to it right away.
How to Identify a Real IP Claim
To find out if the IP claim you received is real, check if the email is from Amazon. However, be aware of phishing or spoofed emails which can look very similar to Amazon emails. Some of the things to look out for are typographical or grammar errors. You can also check the return address, the ending should always be @amazon.com.
Another way to confirm the legitimacy of the claim is through your Performance Notification in your Seller Central account.
If a buyer sent the IP claim, you don’t need to respond. Any IP claim that Amazon did not send is not a legitimate one. Thus no need to reply to them. You can also report the fake IP claim to Amazon.
Tips to Avoid Getting IP Claims?
Here are some helpful tips to prevent receiving an IP claim in the future.
Avoid Troublesome Brands
There are a lot of brands that are known to file IP complaints. So be aware of them and, as much as possible, stay away from selling these brands.
You can learn more about which brands to avoid if you join Facebook groups and forums for Amazon sellers. Or, if you are interested to sell a specific product, you can browse if there are other sellers who sell the product aside from the brand. If you didn’t find other sellers for that product, it would be best to avoid it as it may trigger an IP complaint.
Use IP Alert Chrome Extension
The IP Alert Google Chrome Extension is a helpful tool for Amazon sellers to prevent IP claims. It will pop up a warning on the Amazon listing if there are any known IP issues from a particular brand. While IP Alert is not 100% accurate, it can still provide valuable information to help sellers decide whether or not to sell the product.
IP infringement is not only against Amazon policy but also against the law. Receiving a complaint about IP infringement has consequences. You should take IP claims seriously and take action immediately.
However, before responding to one, make sure it is a legitimate claim. Follow some of the tips above on how to avoid receiving IP claims. Did you recently receive an Amazon IP complaint? Tell us your experience and how you dealt with it in the comments.