A few years ago, Amazon sellers started to notice a massive uptick in the number of bogus Amazon IP claims while selling on the marketplace. The impacts of these arduous claims meant that feelings of fear and frustration plagued sellers, big and small.
In January of 2022, Paul Rafelson, CEO and founder of Ecom Attorneys was tasked with taking over the SellerBasics legal protection plan he and his former business partner started. While Paul handled his fair share of complex Amazon suspensions, Ecom Attorneys focused on more complex business transactions, like M&A, while SellerBasics took care of suspensions.
The policy and strategy for handling IP claims always perplexed Paul. Could we be doing more to stop these IP claims, why are we always begging these brands to retract? It just didn’t make sense to Paul, why were so many Amazon sellers getting IP claims against them by brand owners when selling authentic goods?
Read the full article to find out how Paul and both teams at Ecom Attorneys and SellersBasics fought the IP battle and won.
The Importance Of Understanding Amazon Policy
Understanding Amazon policy is the best weapon when dealing with any Amazon suspension issue. To paint the bigger picture, you must understand that Amazon is pro-first-sale, meaning Amazon loves resellers. Amazon’s seller code of conduct and IP policy states that it violates Amazon's policy to use IP tools such as counterfeit or infringement claims against resellers when the goods they sell are authentic.
It doesn’t actually matter if the seller is authorized or not. Amazon loves that there are unauthorized sellers in their store because unauthorized sellers break MAP more often, which is a win for Prime Members.
So if Amazon has this elaborate policy about using brand registry for improper purposes, such as kicking off unauthorized sellers of authentic products, why are brands getting away with it?
Sadly, the answer is that the people in charge of the program at Amazon didn’t see the opportunity for abuse.
How Does the Seller Code of Conduct Affect IP Claims?
Enter the Seller Code of Conduct, something Ecom Attorneys became familiar with in the M&A space, helping our clients recognize over $200 million in gains when selling their Amazon businesses.
The Amazon Seller Code of Conduct sets forth certain violations which are considered Seller abuse. In this case, the code of conduct also states that that using brand registry tools for an illicit purpose, such as falsely accusing sellers of counterfeit, violates the code and is considered abuse.
So wait, does that mean that the issue resellers have been struggling with for years (brands filing bogus IP claims against them) means they are actual victims of abuse? Yes, according to Amazon. So why was nobody pressing this agenda?
How Did We Solve This Massive Problem?
So how did SellerBasics respond? We turned the system upside down. We began letting brands know that if they didn’t retract their claims, we would report their brand registry abuse to Amazon, and as a result, they would lose their brand registry rights.
We shared our data with Amazon’s teams, letting them know what brands were abusing their IP tools to knock off sellers and dominate the listings.
At first, the brands thought we were making this up, but slowly but surely, as we lobbied Amazon internally to say, hey, this is your policy, do something about it, and gave them the data to back it up, they listened.
Now, brands have something to fear when they are lazy and try to kick off resellers of authentic goods using brand registry tools that are not meant for that purpose. As a result, we’ve seen a substantial decrease in the number of these bogus claims being filed using Amazon tools, keeping Amazon sellers safe. We’ve also seen cases where brands have apologized and immediately retracted once they realize that the seller is protected by SellerBasics because they know there will be repercussions from Amazon.
How Can You Protect Yourself as a Reseller?
If you decide to go on your own and communicate with a rights owner, try to bait them as much as possible and say things like, “we reported you as counterfeit because you aren’t authorized.” You’d be surprised how brands, or their agents, become their own worst enemies.
These statements are pure gold when you need to take the fight to Amazon and show them evidence of abuse. You can also have SellerBasics do it for you for $99/month.
The climate on Amazon in 2022 is challenging to say the least, but your business doesn’t have to derail over bogus IP claims and fierce competition. With the right support system, you can navigate these issues effortlessly and scale your business without stress.