It’s a story I hear over and over again: “Amazon just suspended my product listings and I can’t get them reinstated.” This dilemma is particularly challenging when the suspension is the result of someone claiming your product infringes their intellectual property rights – that is to say their copyright, trademark or patent.
The key to surviving suspension for alleged intellectual property infringement is to understand, first, whether in fact you are infringing, and second, what you can do to address the matter and get back to generating revenue for your business. I help businesses do just that, and to communicate with Amazon (and other online retail platforms) in a manner that is designed to be effective and takes into account applicable laws.
The importance of understanding not only whether your product or listing infringes, but also how to effectively communicate with Amazon cannot be understated. I recently had a client whose product listings were suspended by Amazon because a competitor claimed the client’s products infringed the competitor’s patent. Despite significant efforts to obtain reinstatement before I became involved in the matter, Amazon indicated it would not reinstate the client’s listings without an order from a court.
The client’s product did not infringe, yet the client was still stuck losing revenue from not being able to sell its products on the largest online retail platform in the world. After months of unsuccessfully seeking reinstatement, the client was forced to begin the expensive and long process of suing the competitor, which was when I was retained.
In reviewing the correspondence sent to Amazon by the client and its former attorney, I recognized there was still an opportunity to convince Amazon to reinstate the client’s listings without having to win a lawsuit against the competitor. I prepared an email to Amazon designed to emphasize the most pertinent facts so that the busy Amazon employees reviewing the matter would be more likely to take notice of the reasons why our request for reinstatement was compelling. Within days of sending the email, and with some targeted follow-up on my part, Amazon reinstated the listings.
Not every listing suspension gets resolved so quickly, and it often requires persistence on the part of the attorney representing the seller. The key is presenting the important information, including relevant legal points, in a way that is clear, concise, and likely to grab the attention of the recipient. Further, having an attorney who understands how to respond when valid requests for reinstatement are ignored or denied is also essential.
It is also important to know your rights under the law when a listing is suspended. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) provides a protocol for addressing listing removals based on allegations of copyright infringement. Significantly, the DMCA specifies what can be done to obtain reinstatement, and when a website, such as Amazon, is required to reinstate your listing to avoid liability. Having an attorney who is familiar with the DMCA and other pertinent laws can give an Amazon seller a decided advantage in its reinstatement efforts.
Of course, reinstatement may not be an option if there are legitimate issues of infringement. The most import thing is first understanding whether your product or listing infringes (or may infringe, in cases that are not clear-cut). In that regard, the guidance of an attorney is very important. Having legal counsel evaluate the situation and advise you regarding your rights, potential liability and options going forward will allow you to make informed decisions and, in many cases, avoid pitfalls that could be costly.
Further information available at the following link: Amazon and E-Commerce
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