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How to Avoid Amazon Trademark & Copyright Infringement (IPR)

Encountering Amazon trademark and copyright infringement cases is very frustrating for business owners and merchants as these cases, regardless of its outcome, will definitely slow down the business and take its toll negatively. Amazon can be very strict with trademark and copyright infringement in which they came up with Brand Registry to establish eligible brand owners and give them authority to file for a complaint for cases of brand erosion, rogue selling and protect their intellectual property rights.

Brand owners in Amazon often enroll their registered trademarks to the Brand Registry for them to be recognized. This privilege gives them a level of authority over products which may have their brand name on them. Any merchant or store who tries to sell these products without authorization from the brand owners can be charged with Amazon trademark infringement or Amazon copyright infringement. As a brand owner, it is your sole responsibility to have your brand registered and own trademark rights for your manufactured products. Be aware that the situation is different if a patent protected product is sold under a different brand.

In Amazon, white labeling and private labeling are very common business practices. This development could lead to a lot of confusion with Amazon trademark and copyright infringement cases since most of the products are generally the same except they have different brands. In this wiki article, we will tackle different tips and tricks on how to avoid Amazon trademark and copyright infringement cases out of your white labeling or private labeling business.


Avoiding Amazon Trademark or Copyright Infringement Claim

Amazon has a set of procedures which a business owner should take to file for a trademark or copyright infringement claim. The procedures are provided on their website including the online form which the business owner should fill up and submit to Amazon. The site replies as soon as possible and will right away take action on a trademark or copyright infringement claim as the website honors intellectual properties. It might even revoke a listing until the solution is clarified. Read more about the exact instructions directly from Amazon on their page.

If the business owner is enrolled in the Brand Registry department, he or she can use the Report a Violation (RAV) tool which is a part of the program. The RAV tool can also be used to report other violations on Amazon and is not only limited for Amazon intellectual property rights violations. If you prefer to submit a claim via writing an email, you can also do so as long as you provide the following information which should be included in the email;

  • Physical or electronic signature of the business owner
  • Description or link of the material which is claimed to be infringed upon
  • Description or link of the material claimed to infringing an original product somewhere in Amazon be it the packaging, image/photo used, text on the product details etc.
  • Personal or company address, contact details (phone number, email etc.)
  • Any further information which can help Amazon address the complaint
  • Statement saying the disputed use was not authorized by you or your company
  • Statement saying in which your claim is accurate under penalty or perjury

When it comes to image restrictions and product details page ownerships, there are instances wherein Amazon cannot enforce infringement cases. Product details pages become permanent in Amazon even if the business is already defunct which leaves some pages irrelevant because of inactivity. Also, when you use copyrighted images or photos for the product details page, you are right away granting Amazon and its affiliates a non-exclusive, royalty-free authorization to have access and rights of publicity over the said photo/image. This factor means other sellers can use it on their behalf without violating Amazon trademark infringement.

If you are notified of sellers and Amazon businesses which list items that do not match, you can also report them directly to Amazon using the RAV tool. If any of your copyrighted images have been used by other sellers without your consent, then you can right away report this to Amazon as well or by using the RAV tool if you are registered in the Brand Registry department.

In addition to that, Amazon does not take action on IP infringement from other countries for which the takedown was requested. For example, if a trademark or copyright is registered in UK and you ask Amazon to act up on an Amazon patent infringement here in the US, then Amazon will most likely reject or not entertain your complaint.

When it comes to exclusive distributors, Amazon respects selective rights on this aspect but reserves the manufacturer’s rights to engage their distributors along with MAP (minimum advertised price) agreements for the products. Any violation to these agreements will not fall under Amazon trademark and copyright infringement since these agreements are only between the manufacturer and the seller. Amazon will not enforce authority nor provide assistance for these violations.

A big exception here are design and utility patents. While Amazon is very strict with respect to brand use and copyrights, it’s significantly harder to go after people selling a protected product under a different brand. There is usually more evidence required when it is about product design and similar cases where more complex infringements take place. It has become harder because there were a lot of bogus claims just targeting competitors in the past. Read more here.


Summary

Avoiding Amazon trademark or copyright infringement claims is not really a tough task as long as you know the basics in respecting intellectual properties. It may tend to get confusing with white labeling or private labeling but with the right documents and legal transactions, you can be deemed safe from Amazon trademark or copyright infringement claims.

There are a few instances wherein a company has been sued for Amazon trademark infringement but the reason behind is because the manufacturer they have dealt with for their white label product is not the authorized seller or dealer of the product. They are liable for the complaint even though it is not directly their fault and aiming copyright infringement was not part of the plan. These instances goes to show, your due diligence is also a big part to make sure you avoid Amazon trademark or copyright infringement claims.

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