Recently, there has been an alarmingly large number of Amazon Sellers having their listings removed and accounts suspended for claims of infringement, but not all of these situations involve actual infringement. False infringement claims on Amazon are a dirty trick some sellers are using to try and limit or eliminate their competition for certain items. Because Amazon’s investigators for infringement claims simply check that the Infringement Form has information in all the right spots then kill the reported listing and ask questions later, it’s gotten around the Amazon eco-sphere that this tactic can be used to get other sellers’ listings shutdown. This has created a cutthroat atmosphere where sellers can easily get rid of other sellers’ listings for a product.
Here’s basically how filing false infringement claims on Amazon works:
- Someone fills out Amazon’s Infringement Form to report the infringement, usually using fake information for a law firm or lawyer(s) representing the person/people filing the claim.
- Amazon’s investigators verify that the form has been filled out entirely (READ: only filled out, not necessarily verifying the information provided).
- Once verifying that the form has been filled out completely, Amazon shuts down the listing the claim was filed against.
- Amazon sends a notice to the seller responsible for the listing the claim was filed against that the listing has been removed.
Usually at this point, sellers feel like there is nothing they can do to reverse the false infringement claim. The truth is it is very difficult and incredibly frustrating to deal with, but it is not an impossible task to have a false infringement claim on Amazon reversed.
So, what is Amazon doing to combat these false infringement claims?
Unfortunately, Amazon is only required to do enough to meet the minimum standard liability, hence why their investigators have traditionally only checked to see that forms are completely filled out rather than verifying every piece of information. According to Chris McCabe from eCommerceChris.com, the good news is that Amazon has become aware that sellers are using this tactic to get other sellers’ listings removed and have actually started suspending the bad actors for it.
How can sellers fight false infringement claims on Amazon?
First and foremost, always remain professional when corresponding with Amazon. You don’t want to undermine your appeal process by letting your frustration get the best of you. If you receive an Infringement Notice from Amazon about one of your listings, you can file an appeal. McCabe suggests sellers should always keep all of their paperwork that relates to product safety and compliance, copyright information (patents and trademarks), and supplier information in a place that is easily accessible in the event you experience one of these false infringement claims on Amazon.
You can deal with this yourself, but it is advisable to hire an attorney (especially one that specializes in helping Amazon sellers) to deal with an infringement claim.
A good place to start is to try and contact the rights owner directly. Amazon’s notice should include an address where you can contact the person who filed the claim. If you can resolve the issue directly with the rights owner and have the retract it from Amazon, you will be able to hopefully get your listing back up quickly and easily.
If you think the claim was filed by someone who is not the actual rights owner, you can try to track down the actual rights owner by asking for the information from your supplier or looking it up on the USPTO database. If you can get the original rights owner to clarify with Amazon that someone is abusing their infringement claims system, it could help to get your listing put back up.
You can also send Amazon’s Notice team a legal letter if you are not receiving responses via email from the person who submitted the claim or from Amazon’s team. This is another good reason to retain an attorney to help you with resolve this issue. Just make sure you thoroughly research any attorney you are considering hiring to help with false infringement claims on Amazon before paying them any money.
Hopefully, you will never have to deal with false infringement claims on Amazon. But if you do, just stay calm and professional. Make sure you keep track of your paperwork for your products so you can easily defend yourself if you have a claim filed against your listings. Do diligent research if you decide to hire an attorney to help you. Luckily, Amazon is getting wise to the misuse and abuse of their infringement reporting process so there is hope on the horizon that this problem will get under control soon!