In a world rife with counterfeiting, intellectual property violation claims are becoming more common. It makes sense really. Brands want to protect what they’ve created.
Receiving an intellectual property complaint from Amazon can be a very scary thought, but it shouldn’t put you off from delving into the wonderful world of Amazon FBA.
The best thing you can do is to arm yourself with the right amount of knowledge and the tools to help you avoid sourcing products that might get you into IP claim territory in the first place.
In this article I’m going to give you exactly that, so buckle up and let’s dive in.
I'm definitely not a lawyer of any sort so before I dive into this meat and potatoes of this article, please take note of this disclaimer!
Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is based on my own personal experience as an Amazon seller. The information I am sharing in this article should not be considered as legal advice. Please always do your own research and seek professional advice before making any decisions in your business.
What is Intellectual Property?
According to Investopedia, Intellectual Property (IP) “is a broad categorical description for the set of intangible assets owned and legally protected by a company or individual from outside use or implementation without consent. An intangible asset is a non-physical asset that a company or person owns.”
The three most common forms of IP are:
To put it into layman’s terms, intellectual property is someone else's creation. Brands have every right to protect their intellectual property because generally, their IP is their greatest asset.
What is an IP Alert or Complaint on Amazon?
Firstly, it’s important to note that it’s actually not illegal for you to resell products on Amazon that you have lawfully purchased. Otherwise, Online Arbitrage or Retail Arbitrage wouldn’t even exist.
What’s important to note in this case is that Amazon makes the rules, and if they receive an IP complaint from a brand then you will have to take action and respond accordingly.
If you receive an IP complaint for a product you are selling, you could technically fight for your right to keep on selling the products. The chances are though, the brand will want to defend its positions and you are far better off just removing the product listings altogether.
Because you’re a seller on Amazon’s platform, you’re subject to their terms of service. If you don’t comply with a legitimate IP complaint, you could risk getting shut down completely. It’s simply not worth it in my opinion, so don’t take IP complaints lightly.
Brands usually use IP complaints to stop the counterfeiting of their products, but they may also simply be protective of their brand and don’t want anyone else selling it.
How Do I Know if The IP Alert is Legit?
You might receive messages informing you that you are infringing on a brand’s intellectual property, which may come across as quite scary the first time around.
Personally, I don’t reply to such messages because anyone could be sending them. There’s no real way to verify if it is actually from the brand in question.
If a brand wants to file a legitimate IP claim they need to do it through Amazon, not through buyer messages.
If you’ve received a legitimate IP claim from a brand, you will receive an email from Amazon directly and you will see a notice in your Seller Central account under Performance Notifications.
How To Respond to Amazon IP Claims
When you receive a complaint, it will contain contact details of the person sending the complaint on behalf of the brand. It’s a good idea to reply to them politely and query the basis of the complaint, if they have not already detailed this in their initial complaint.
It is important that you take all complaints seriously and let both Amazon and the brand know that you are doing so.
You can let the brand know that you purchased the products legally and that you have receipts, of which you should send them a copy.
There is a fair chance that the brand won’t back down, but it’s worth a try.
You should let Amazon know exactly what you have done in regards to contacting the brand, and you should also send a copy of your receipts to Amazon.
The most important thing in a scenario like this is to act politely and professionally in all of your communications. Make sure you respond quickly to any IP complaints so they can be resolved ASAP.
How Can Sellers Prevent an Amazon IP Alert?
There’s a few tell-tale signs that sellers can look for when sourcing products, but most of the time you need to rely on your general know-how and some additional, manual investigation to work out if a brand is likely to file an IP complaint against you.
Here’s a couple of signs that you might be at risk selling certain products:
- The brand is the only seller on Amazon selling the product. This indicates that they are very protective of their brand and have gone to lengths to stop anyone else selling it.
- There’s a small number of other sellers but they have thousands of reviews. This might indicate some sort of exclusivity with the brand directly in which case, they won't want new kids on the block like you coming in and selling the same product.
Whilst these tips are helpful, you really need to have access to a database of known IP claimants, which is where the IP Alert Chrome Extension comes in handy. I’ve written more about it further below in this article.
Well Known Brands To Avoid
You can scour the internet for brands that are known to file IP claims but that could take forever and you won’t know how up-to-date the information might be.
Important Note: It's also very important to know the difference between an IP Claim and an Amazon Brand Restriction. They are not the same!
To give you a little head start, even though this list is very limited, here are just some of the brands you should avoid re-selling on Amazon:
- Argan Magic
- Altec Lansing
- Cook With Color
- Discover Toys
- FAO Schwarz toys
- Sharper Image
- Lily's Baking Chocolate
- Mixed Chicks
- Vital Performance Supplements
There are literally hundreds of brands that will not hesitate to send an Amazon IP complaint. The absolute best way to reduce your risk of an IP claim is to use something like the software I co-created, IP Alert. More on that below!
Amazon IP Alert Chrome Extension
If you know anything about me, you’ll be well aware that I am actually a long-time Amazon seller myself. That’s why I build tools like the IP Alert Chrome Extension.
As an Amazon seller I have first hand experience on everything I write about and I use these tools in my own business.
Here’s some of the reasons why I know IP Alert is the absolute best when it comes to helping you avoid Amazon IP claims...
We Crowdsource Valuable Information from Actual Amazon Sellers
Sellers can submit information regarding brands that filed IP claims. This information is then scrutinized and verified before it is ever added to the IP Alert database. This allows us to have the most up-to-date info on brands that are known for filing IP complaints.
IP Alert Works on Mobile
This just makes sense if you’re a retail arbitrage seller, right? (Unless of course you make a habit of carrying your laptop and wireless dongle around with you everywhere you go!?)
Offline Database Updated Regularly
This means you don’t need to reload your browser or update your extension when we add new brands to the database. We add all new info directly to the offline database for your convenience.
It Doesn’t Cost a Fortune
We know that sellers use a lot of tools in their Amazon business and we’re not out here trying to gouge your hip pocket. We have simple lifetime or annual options, both much more affordable than any competitors.
Risk Free Guarantee
If you don’t like it then you can get your money back. Of course we are happy to work with you until you get your money's worth out of the software, but if you aren't satisfied then a refund is no issue at all. IP Alert has great support and we are committed to your satisfaction.
How Does The IP Alert Chrome Extension Work?
We’ve made this as easy as possible to use. Once you’ve installed the extension in your browser, just navigate to any product page on Amazon.com.
If the product page you are on is for a brand that is known to file claims, you will get two alerts.
The first will be a popup box, which is pretty hard to avoid!
If for some reason you didn't see the first popup alert, there is also an animated pulsating red siren next to the brand name on the product page.
Simple, streamlined and incredibly effective.
If you want to take a closer look at IP Alert, check it out here.
My Final Word on Amazon IP Complaints
Always take complaints seriously, but don’t panic!
My best advice is to avoid sourcing products that are likely to get you into trouble. The number one way to do this is to use IP Alert.
Of course there is absolutely no guarantee that a brand won’t file an IP complaint but what you can do is mitigate the risk by doing your due diligence up-front.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck with a gaylord full of products that you’re no longer allowed to sell.
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Thanks for reading!