How to deal with Copyright Infringement Notice or Suspension as an Amazon Seller
Being suspended for Copyright Infringement on Amazon can be a baffling minefield for some Sellers.
Copyright Infringement is a serious matter, but honest mistakes can also be made there are usually ways to correct them.
Amazon suspensions for Intellectual Property Violations are common with Sellers who drop ship. Drop shippers need to carry out due diligence before uploading products. Many Amazon drop shippers upload files containing thousands of products without checking the items. There are certain brands that are high risk and Amazon Sellers should be wary of listing these items, a full list of Amazon brands that are likely to cause an IP complaint and possibly a suspension are listed here.
Thompson and Holt’s managing partner Craig Gedey has significant experience of how to handle these Amazon suspensions and here gives seven key tips to be aware of.
1. Learn about the Suspected Intellectual Property Violations (SIPV) Amazon Dashboard
Launched earlier this year, the SIPV can help you navigate that minefield of Copyright Infringements. You can find this dashboard in Account Health on Seller Central.
Amazon now feeds potential trademark issues straight into this SIPV dashboard so you need to familiarise yourself with how it works. Sellers have also reported this arising with no email notifications, so it’s important that you know how it operates. Try and check this at least daily.
Spend time learning how the system works and reading up on the best practise for using it as it will become invaluable. The more familiar you are both with this, and your own order history, the better position you will be in to deal with any issues.
2. Ask for Complainant Information
Amazon can hand out suspension notifications with no contact information for whoever has made the complaint, making the chances of reaching a resolution with the complainant small. If this happens to you make sure you contact the Amazon Notice Dispute team and insist that this information is provided, as required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim regulation and Amazon policy. Make it clear that you have sincere intentions and are looking to remedy your situation.
3. Disburse your funds regularly
If your Amazon Seller account is suspended because of IP complaints, Amazon usually withholds all funds until the situation is remedied. Because people can make incorrect or false accusations, bogus infringement claims and vague cease and desist letters, you can end up suspended through no fault of your own. So disburse your funds regularly so there isn’t a large amount in the account that could be frozen from you. And if you suspect a bogus or false claim against you, report it immediately with as much evidence as possible to Amazon.
4. Switching suppliers is not a golden ticket
Some Sellers believe that when a complaint is made, simply switching suppliers will protect you from suspension. But the is not the case - Amazon keeps a record of listings, so historical complaints can still land you in trouble. It is worth noting that the Performance Team only looks at IP complaints that go back as far as 180 days, so you wouldn’t get suspended for complaints older than six months.
5. Be wary of solicitors and lawyers
You may be contacted by a legal representative over an IP complaint. Because they charge for their time, they are unlikely to be in a rush to conclude the case. But the person that they are representing might be more cooperative and willing to find a quick solution, so look up them and attempt to make contact before replying to the lawyers. If the complainant agrees to retract the claim, make sure they send their letter to Amazon from the same address, and then seek confirmation fro the Notice Dispute team to solidify your position.
6. Condition trick doesn’t work
There is a notion that you can avoid IP infringement by listing an item as “used” or “like new” instead of new - but it’s a complete myth. Amazon sends out infringement notifications regardless of condition, with a number of examples being listed on Seller Forums. You can break the law by selling an item in a country other than where you bought it, whether it’s new or used. Read up on Amazon Intellectual Property Policy for further details.
7. If in doubt contact Thompson and Holt
As specialists in getting Sellers back online when they have been suspended by Amazon for a variety of reasons, including for IP infringement. We have significant experience in areas that can seem daunting for Sellers that haven’t had to deal with them before. Contact Thompson and Holt immediately to get back online selling as quickly as possible.
The Amazon suspension notice for IP claims can look like the example below
Your Amazon selling account has been deactivated. Your listings have been removed. Funds will not be transferred to you but will be held in your account while we work with you to address this issue. Please ship any open orders to avoid further impact to your account.
Why did this happen? We arrived at this decision after detecting multiple violations of our listing policies.
Were here to help. If you need help better understanding what is causing this, please search for ‘Intellectual Property Violations’ in Seller Central Help (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/201361070).
How do I reactivate my account? To reactivate your selling account, please send us the following: A plan of action that explains: -- The root cause(s). -- The actions you have taken to resolve the notices of infringement or violation of Amazons policies. -- The steps you have taken to prevent infringement or violating Amazons policies.
For security reasons, we only accept attachments in the following file formats: .jpeg, .jpg, .pjpeg, .gif, .png, .tiff. These documents must be authentic and unaltered.
How do I send the required information? Submit this information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens if I do not send the requested information? If we do not receive the requested information, your account will remain deactivated and funds in your account may be held for 90 days or longer. Depending on your account status and activities, you may be required to complete an additional review before funds can be released. Amazon may withhold payments if we determine that your account was used to sell inauthentic or prohibited goods, commit fraud, or engage in other illegal or abusive activity.
You can view your account performance (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/performance/dashboard?reftag=email_block) or select Account Health on the home screen of the Amazon Seller app on your iOS or Android device. The Account Health dashboard shows how well your account is performing against the performance metrics and policies required to sell on Amazon.
If you receive a suspension notice or a 72 hour notice of suspension from Amazon it's important that you reply with a solid Amazon appeal and plan of action, where appropriate include copies of invoices.
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