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Bogus Amazon Infringement Claims: Copyright, Trademarks and Patents

By Chris McCabe

Unethical Amazon sellers target their competitors with bogus trademark, copyright and patent reports. Here's how to protect yourself.

Bogus Amazon Infringement Claims: Copyright, Trademarks and Patents

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That Guy

What about Amazon’s own policy stating that images on Amazon can be used royalty free?

When a detail page is created, it becomes a permanent catalog page on Amazon.com that will remain even if the creator’s inventory sells out. Additionally, when you add your copyrighted image to a detail page, you grant Amazon and its affiliates a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to exercise all rights of publicity over the material.

Chris McCabe

Replying to That Guy

You grant Amazon the right to use and display the images, as the quoted policy indicates. That does not state anywhere that all sellers can use any image royalty-free. It means that Amazon itself can use it.

Otherwise, copyright infringement would have no legal meaning on Amazon, which would create a chaotic platform of use and abuse. Anyone could use anyone else’s images, at any time, elsewhere on the site. The way this is phrased demonstrates that you can list against a detail page with someone else’s image — but not to have the right to use it elsewhere, at your own discretion.

Karen

Replying to Chris McCabe

Using product photos and text to sell the exact product shown in the photos and described in the text is not copyright infringement. I do not believe the US Copyright Office would accept ordinary product photos or the sorts of descriptions used on product packaging, labels, and listing pages, for registration. Not everything is copyrightable.

Pete

We are having this exact same problem at the moment. We did $1.8 million with Amazon in 3 months and now we are suspended indefinitely. We had to let staff go because of our revenue drop.

We had a customer/seller actually buy hundreds of one product claiming authenticity to try and increase our metrics past the threshold because we were selling it cheaper than them. They threatened to take our business down and Amazon did nothing and would not block the buyer from us. Eventually we had to stop selling the item. After this, we received 6 infringement claims out of nowhere. One responded and removed the complaint, the other 5 have never responded to us in a 6 week period.

We are completely stuck and did not realise this was apparently such a common theme!

What a nightmare

Chris McCabe

Replying to Pete

Hi, did you hire an attorney to send a letter to the would-be rights owner? That may be a good way to motivate them. Also, there is a new process to dispute notice complaint forms.

Also, did you have any real proof to show Amazon about the buyer being tied to the seller account? They usually need a good amount of evidence of that.

Craig

Replying to Chris McCabe

Hi Chris,

Our Amazon account manager informed us a two Rights Holders that had validate complaints, but we never received an email from Amazon with a list of ASINS or the Complaint ID number. Without this information, we can file a counterclaim. Any ideas?

Craig

Replying to Pete

Hey Pete, If you are still stuck, I think I can help you. Let me know the best way to reach. Take care, Craig

David A. Self

This isn’t just an Amazon issue this is a U.S. nationwide issue because of failed government policies within the USPO. Many times you will see works, publications and products claiming to be trademarked, servicemark, copywrited protected, U.S. Patent Pending then you check with the USPO they have no listing or such or any application filed on such; but, that’s to our failed representatives in Washington they have this act called Rights to Privacy, and the USPO can’t investigate any wrongdoing. Isn’t it great we live in a country so scattered brained from false and misrepresenting works. I am an Amazon Associate, and my advice is do your own investigating before acting because if you think you can depend upon rules and regulations from any U.S. bodies forget it they are too stupid and lazy to act on our request. I don’t think Amazon as ones put it is the issue, I think these states government have told Jeff Benzo what he can and can’t do, or close their doors to those particular states. Alabama is a great example, the state is so broke from corrupt internal government they have forced an Amazon tax upon all delivers to Alabama at twice the normal rate of any local stores 8%; so, Amazon must charge for such fee or they can’t deliver to Alabama even thou the U.S. Supreme Court has rules such tax or fee unconstitutional some states will not comply again because we have dummies and lazy leadership in Washington. I never had an issue with Amazon’s policies, it’s these damn U.S. states that is causing the problems and failed government policy; so, next time you vote remember don’t vote to reelected anyone in presence government seats.

Chris McCabe

Replying to David A. Self

Certainly, you can’t take anybody’s word for it. You’d need to do your due diligence to make sure anyone claiming copyright or trademark actually has taken those steps and secured those rights. Thanks for reading.

Gary

Chris… Your article misses an important defensive step. Counternotice TO Amazon. And it must be done in a very short timeline

https://www.dmca.com/FAQ/What-is-a-DMCA-Counter-Notice

This is assuming it is a false claim and the claimant will not bring suit, which fake trolls don’t.

Christopher McCabe

Replying to Gary

Will cover counter notices in short order, thanks for pointing that out.

Britt

Fantastic expose from someone who knows first hand what’s going on at Amazon. I am also an Amazon account manager for various companies and brands (I don’t like the title consultant for whatever reason) and I see this becoming such an exploited weakness for sellers that what is coming down the pipe next? Amazon seller account insurance! You’ll soon be seeing financial institutions collecting a monthly fee from fear motivated sellers to guarantee their bi weekly payout should they get suspended and some sort of legal team to help reinstate seller status and draw up action plans etc. crazy as it sounds it equally sounds more and more necessary……

Christopher McCabe

Replying to Britt

You must have struggled to manage brands for sellers if they were continually fighting off competition doing everything they can to disrupt a proper private label listing right? Well, hopefully there are new brand protection tools coming your way in ’17. Make sure there are disputes sent to Notice queues if anyone claims you’re infringing against their rights. This process needs to expand to include abuse by those who have no right to assert those rights.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Christopher McCabe

Replying to damon sin

Right but the article misses one key piece of info, who handles the actual reinstatement work? What’s their background or track record? Ultimately that will be the most important element.

Interesting to know insurance companies are backing up sellers who need to protect against funds loss. Anything to mitigate risk for those who can’t stay away from the policy teams will make sense for those analyzing the risks properly. Thanks for contributing

Britt

Replying to damon sin

No way! Wow that was timing lol thanks I hadn’t seen this!

Christopher McCabe

Replying to Britt

Hi Britt. Hopefully someday soon Amazon suspensions won’t last as long because Amazon teams will respond with more clarity, and indicate what might be missing from each Plan of Action or appeal they receive from sellers. If they only did that, they’d reduce the number of emails they get, and the timelines and lost revenue would go down remarkably. I’ll keep agitating for better processes.

When that happens, insurance won’t be as necessary as it could be now.

R L

Recently received a notice for an asin I had listed

“We received a report from a rights owner that you are listing counterfeit products. Sellers on Amazon.com are not allowed to create listings or detail pages for counterfeit goods.”

I had listed (quantity of 1) it but never sold any units. Purchased at legit retail store.

Do I have any recourse if the rights holder wont remove?

Seems odd to get a counterfeit claim on something never sold.

Chris

I don’t typically see that phrasing. When it does appear, usually it means the rights owner did what’s known as a ‘test buy’ — yet you stated that you haven’t sold any of the items. Was the title incorrect or hinted at branding, but it’s a generic item? Would depend on the details of the situation, but in general, I recommend against purchasing items at retail stores and lean towards buying from authorized resellers, or failing that, from an established, long-time distributor know for selling that brand. You may not have the kinds of supplier info or even the proper invoice documents to prove authenticity, otherwise. Not based on the parameters of what they normally ask to see…

Otherwise, given the Product Quality team landscape these days, you’re going to need to appeal to Amazon indicating you’ll never list or sell these again, and delete listings/ remove items from FBA.

Thanks for reading. — Chris

Joanne

It’s not surprising that this is happening, however, the much bigger issue is the actual copyright infringement that IS taking place. Amazon has a duty to enforce the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and it makes sense that they would err on the side of caution to prevent lawsuits being brought against them. Hoards of sellers operating out of Indonesia, China and various other countries (outside the US) with loose copyright enforcement are using images taken directly from eBay (and other websites) without permission in order to re-sell the products on Amazon. They are essentially acting as a broker and profiting with huge mark-ups. While there is nothing illegal about drop-shipping, it is ethically a questionable practice as the buyer is unaware they are purchasing from a third party and paying three times (or more) what the product is actually valued at. Amazon does act on complaints, however, the process is slow (1-4 weeks) and aside from removal of the intellectual property, I have not witnessed any immediate action taken against the sellers accounts as they continue to operate Amazon stores.

Christopher McCabe

Replying to Joanne

Agreed on most of the above, the reason it takes Amazon a long time or they sometimes fail to act is the sheer number of these infringement claims, plus as I noted, the knowledge that the Amazon internal teams aren’t doing much to vet these forms breeds more abuse. Also, they don’t have enough headcount on these teams to handle all the volume.

What did you mean in terms of the dropshipping? Not sure I followed you there.

Chris

Andy Geldman

We’ve just published a follow-up to this post, covering Amazon’s changing attitude to these claims, how to create a Plan of Action, and filing a DMCA counterclaim.

How to Fight Amazon Rights Infringement Claims

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