Amazon Sellers News with CJ Rosenbaum: Responding to IP Complaints, Selling Clothing With Logos & Amz Business Verification
Selling Clothing With Logos
If you’re selling tee shirts, or hats, or sweatpants, or college shirts with logos, you can’t put other logos on your clothing. It is a clear intellectual property right violation. You can’t use the brands of baseball teams, football teams, the names of bands, the logos, album art. If some other company or brand developed a logo, you cannot stick it on your shirt, hat, sweatpants or any place else. They own it. Also, when it comes to professional athletes, you can’t take their names and put them on your jersey. It is a clear violation. Your account will go down.
Responding to intellectual property rights complaints.
Responding to the right’s owner or IP complaints, they’re the same thing under different names. If you receive an IP complaint, as soon as that email comes in, whether it’s entirely baseless or it might have merit, I want every single seller to know what we do and what we recommend. First, respond to the email address. Send them a note that you received the complaint. You take it very, very seriously and you’ll be back in touch as soon as possible. The second step is to then review what they’re accusing you of. Review your listing and review your product and identify whether you are or you are not violating intellectual property rights. We do this for sellers seven days a week. Now if you’re not violating their rights, then you want to negotiate for a retraction from a position of strength. Their complaint is baseless. If you are violating their IP rights, then you want to negotiate for a retraction, but you probably want to be a little bit softer in your negotiations. Either way, whether you are violating somebody’s rights or you are not, you want to get a retraction to get your account back or to limit the risk of your account going down if your account has not been suspended. If the complainant does not respond, then you want to take screenshots and save that bounce back email that you did try and contact the complainant and then you want to check uspto.gov to see do they even own intellectual property rights. There has been a dramatic increase in Q4 and the number of IP complaints by sellers who don’t own the IP rights at all. Now, the next step is to write to notice dispute to tell Amazon either you are either not violating their IP rights or the complainant is non-responsive. You could potentially bring a counter-notice on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. And also if the allegation is that you sold counterfeit products is entirely baseless, you have leverage under two different legal theories and you use that leverage to get a retraction or you can consider taking them to court. The two causes of action are defamation per se and intentional or tortious interference with your contract with Amazon.
The worst part of the new TOS.
The worst part of Amazon’s new terms of service that was imposed on all sellers in August is the ongoing business verifications. Business verifications used to only apply to new sellers. When you opened your account, you had to provide Amazon with certain documentation to show that you were a legitimate business. Your lease, your utility bills, bank accounts, emails, whatever they asked you for, you just had to jump through their hoops. But once you were established, you were good to go until there was a problem. Now in paragraph one of the new TOS Amazon wrote in the new contract, they will ask for continuing business verification and worse than it is in the contract, Amazon is doing it to sellers all over the world. Usually, the sticking point is a lease and/or a utility bill. Why do I say that? Amazon asks for a utility bill. If you’re paying your utilities on your own, send them the entire bill. If you’re not paying your own utilities, then send Amazon a copy of your lease or create a rider with your landlord that indicates that the landlord covers all utilities.