Amazon sellers need to know about intellectual property law. Especially if the Amazon seller’s account was suspended because of an IP complaint. The complaints that cause Amazon sellers’ accounts to be suspended are often referred to as rights owner complaints.
What is intellectual property (IP)?
Intellectual property law can be broken down into four categories:
1. Copyright law for Amazon sellers
Copyright law for Amazon sellers focuses mainly on images and verbiage. Amazon sellers should never use photographs or images that they do not own. Amazon sellers should take their own pictures for their listings. Sellers should not copy and paste verbiage from anybody else’s product or website and use it on their detail page.
2. Trademark law for Amazon sellers
Trademark law for Amazon sellers focuses on the use of logos and other marks. As Amazon sellers become private label sellers, they should file for trademark protection for their logo and the name of the private label brand they are developing. Amazon sellers should never take another person’s or another company’s trademark and put it on their own products.
3. Patent law for Amazon sellers
Design patents have to do with how a product looks. Utility patents have to do with how a product functions. Amazon sellers need to avoid infringing upon patents owned by others.
4. Trade Dress for Amazon sellers
Trade dress pertains to an entire product including its shape, color, packaging, and all other factors that make a product unique. Amazon sellers should not copy products if they want to avoid rights owner complaints. However, Amazon does not seem to have the best system for rights owners to assert trade dress complaints.
What protections are applicable to designers?
Amazon sellers can apply for intellectual property right protection just like any other business or person. If an Amazon seller has developed a private label brand, they should file for protection of their mark. If they have developed a new design for an existing product, they should file for a design patent. If they have made an entirely new invention, they should file for a utility patent. Amazon sellers who are accused of violating intellectual property rights should contact us for a free consultation.
Amazon sellers can obtain international protection for their intellectual property in numerous ways. An Amazon seller can apply for a trademark in the United States and extend that protection through WIPO. WIPO stands for World Intellectual Property Organization. Amazon sellers can also obtain protection around the world by filing for protection in other countries.
Sellers should be concerned about obtaining protection where they are selling their products and where they are sourcing their products. For example, a seller who has developed a private label product and is having it produced in China should obtain protection in China. That seller should also obtain protection wherever his/her products are being sold.
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Court cases where Amazon sellers faced intellectual property issues:
There have been many situations where legal action was taken against Amazon for common law violations that caused damages to both sellers and buyers. These include: copyright infringement, breach of agreements with vendors, deceptive advertising practices and more.
If you are an Amazon seller and want to learn about what courts have said in cases involving intellectual property issues, we wrote the book on cases involving Amazon and Amazon sellers.
Regardless of the outcome of any particular case, these instances show that Amazon law is not above the law that we all must follow.
Our website provides legal documentation of these cases involving Amazon, along with the details of the case and whether Amazon won or lost. The Amazon Law Library sums up these cases to help each and every Seller understand their rights when it comes to selling on Amazon.