It has been reported that more and more Sellers have been receiving more IP Complaints/Claims, which is sending many into a spin.
But wait, let’s quickly cover what an IP claim is.
IP stands for intellectual property and a brand owner, manufacturer or a seller can contact Amazon to issue an IP claim against a product. In doing so, they are claiming the other sellers on a particular listing are violating the company's intellectual property rights.
It's been the responsibility of the Amazon seller to steer clear of brands that are a little too eager to file IP Complaints with Amazon.
There are three main types of IP rights: copyrights, trademarks, and patents.
Copyrights are legal protections for original works of authorship
Trademarks are legal protections for a word, symbol, design, or combination of the same that a company uses to identify goods and services
Patents are legal protections for inventions
If you violate any of these intellectual property rights, Amazon may send you an IP infringement notice (or IP claim).
Personally, we don't believe IP Claims are deserving of all the hysteria online and within Facebook communities, but it is important for sellers to understand what it means to them and their seller account, and we want to set the record straight.
ASINs can get suspended for “potential” (often imaginary) Intellectual Property infringement violations. You need strategies to defend yourself against this automation and human error combo! Opening cases with Support or sending emails to Seller Performance won’t get you anywhere unless you enjoy copy and paste generic “responses.” Every kind of seller, both private label and resellers, need to learn up on these to resolve appeals properly. Mistakes cost time, energy, effort, and make you frustrated!
How To Tell If An IP Claim Is Legit?
A legitimate IP Claim will come to you in two places.
The first is in the form of an email from Amazon, and the second will show within your Performance Notifications in Seller Central.
The email may have a subject along the lines of “Notice: Policy Warning”.
Legitimate IP Claims do not come from buyer messages, so if you receive one you can simply click the ‘Response Not Needed’ button and move on with your day. If you want to take it one step further, you can report them to Amazon. If a brand owner wants to restrict their brand on Amazon, they need to do so by contacting Amazon directly.
If you do receive an IP claim, you can find the full details within your Seller Central account by visiting Performance > Account Health > Product Policy Compliance > Received Intellectual Property.
In addition to receiving IP claims, you can also receive Suspected IP Claims.
What are Suspected IP Claims?
In the Product Policy Compliance section of Account Health, you'll also see a category called Suspected Intellectual Property Violations.
This was a new addition for 2019 that Amazon implemented and they don't seem to have a negative effect on account health. Instead, they seem to indicate ASINs that were removed from the Amazon catalog that you are or were selling, which are listed as active/inactive in your inventory.
Of the ASINs that I've seen flagged in this category, it looks like they're mainly for licensed items where the listing title was created incorrectly and did not follow Amazon product listing guidelines.
The good news is, one IP claim should not result in your account being suspended and typically only your selling privileges for selling that specific ASIN will be restricted unless you can prove the violation to be incorrect.
However, if you start to accumulate several IP claims on your account, you are at higher risk of account suspension and account suspension for IP infringements can be very tricky to resolve. We know as we have helped many sellers through our Deactivation Defence service!
How Best To Respond To IP Claims
Your IP Claim should contain contact details for the rights owner and they should be the first on your list to contact. You may want to kindly request that they expand on the basis of their complaint and assure them that you are taking their complaint seriously. Hopefully, their reply will help you see if you really did violate their intellectual property or if the complaint isn't accurate.
If the complaint is due to an infringement such as a Trademark, you can use the Trademark office register to search for the brand to see if an in-date trademark is registered.
Once you understand the complaint, and if proved that you are not in violation, you can ask the brand to issue a retraction with Amazon. They may do this if they see that you are not in violation or if you agree to close your listings of the affected ASINs, if even if you are.
Be ready though as there is always a chance that the brand will ignore you and never reply to your email. We advise our clients to send a polite follow-up email within 24-48 hours of the initial one prompting for a response. That way you can let Amazon know that you contacted the rights owner twice and received no reply. Amazon wishes to see that you are taking the claim seriously and taking steps to manage it correctly, so feeding this back in your response to them will help.
Learning From The Experience Of Others
We have been selling on Amazon for many years and have received quite a few IP claims in our time and have also successfully defended a number of complaints to, and won. Some of these violations came in the early days when we didn’t keep a tight rein on our inactive listings. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. Even if you have no active stock for a product listing and are no longer wishing to replenish the product line, you should delete and close the listing from your inventory records, until such time as it may need to be relisted, otherwise, you could face an IP violation from the Amazon bots trawling your inventory data.
The biggest problem with these IP complaints is not necessarily the potential ding to your account health (if you don't get them cleaned up) but the fact that you have to spend time that could otherwise be engaged in profit-producing activity cleaning up these issues.
That may include dealing with seller support, downloading, fixing, and uploading inventory flat files, deleting the product for 24 hours and then re-uploading an inventory flat file, creating removals and losing money on deadstock, the list goes on…
This can not only shift your focus from what you should be working on but it can also consume your mindset and outlook about selling on Amazon due to the many hoops you have to jump through.
This is one of the reasons why a power network and working with those who have been in the game long enough to provide the right information to you is crucial, so you know what to sell, what not to sell, how to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of receiving IP claims and what to do in the event of receiving one.
Within our flagship Academy programme we have built a comprehensive list of ASINs, brands and product listings that our members have access to so they know which listings one should avoid, which covers multiple marketplaces and this awesome tool has saved our members thousands!
Our Academy is our main coaching programme where we help people build a highly profitable eCommerce business and is designed to cover the complete journey, so it's perfect for beginners, intermediate and advanced alike. If you feel this programme could help your business, you can click here to get in contact with us.
Intellectual Property infringement can take any seller by surprise – even the most experienced sellers. To help avoid IP Claims across the marketplaces you sell in, make sure you carry out your own due diligence on products/brands you are sourcing to ensure you are allowed to resell them on your marketplace before listing them to inventory on Amazon.
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