As many advantages as selling on Amazon provides (huge pool of buyers, global brand recognition, ease of setup and use, etc.), there are unscrupulous sellers out there who are looking to take advantage of your hard work. RepricerExpress has uncovered these threats you could face to your brand and how you can protect yourself.
Threat 1: Hijacked Listings
A hijacked listing is when another seller takes your Buy Box away by selling what appears to be the same product as you, only a counterfeit version.
If this happens to you, you have a few options.
- Click on their seller name on the product page, then select the “Ask A Question” button. From there, send them a cease and desist letter outlining how you’re the original owner of the product/listing and what they’re doing is against Amazon’s Terms of Service.
- File a complaint with Amazon whether you’re a brand-registered owner or not.
- Get in contact with a lawyer, as they’ll know the detailed specifics of how to move forward.
Threat 2: Piggybacked Listings
Closely related to hijacked listings, a piggybacked listing is where merchants sell your actual product (as opposed to a counterfeit version).
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to tell just by looking at it, so your best course of action is to purchase one and carefully inspect it to see if it is actually yours.
While US law allows sellers to resell your product, Amazon’s ToS specify that there can’t be duplicate listings for the same ASIN and so your options are a bit more limited. To combat this threat and keep your listings safe, find out where they’re sourcing it from and try and cut off the supply.
Threat 3: Copyright or Trademark Infringement
Copyright usually pertains to creative works, like your logo, images, product packaging design and listings. As soon as you create these works (and as long as they’re original), the copyright belongs to you.
A trademark, on the other hand, deals more with the company itself (i.e. brand name, product names, slogans, etc.).
If you find that a seller has violated your copyright, follow the same steps as you would for hijacked listings (cease and desist letter, filing a complaint with Amazon either through Amazon Brand Registry or the infringement violation report).
You’ll follow pretty much the same steps as you would for a trademark violation, but when you’re sending the cease and desist letter or filling out the infringement violation form, gather as much data as you can. Your success in winning depends on you being able to prove you were the original owner/designer.
Threat 4: Patent Infringement
While the above threat dealt with infringements against creative and proprietary information, patents have to do with innovations or inventions and there are two main kinds.
- Utility patents protect the item’s use or operation. These patents are quite technical in nature, so they can be expensive and take a long time to secure.
- Design patents protect the item’s appearance. These patents usually take less time to secure and are more affordable, but you need to prove some or all of the design is 100% original.
You’ll want to deal with patent infringements the same way you would for copyright and trademark infringements (cease and desist letter, filing a complaint with Amazon). The only difference is an extra step for utility patents where you’ll be using Amazon’s Patent Neutral Evaluation Service.
Threat 5: IP Infringement Claim
IP, or intellectual property, protects intangible creations. It’s also a bit of an umbrella term that encompasses patents, copyrights, trademarks and more, like trade secrets or automated processes.
If you’ve encountered a seller who’s made an IP claim against you that’s false, these are the steps to follow.
- Email the seller (with the email address Amazon’s provided you) and ask them (politely!) to outline which of their IP you’ve infringed. Staying calm, cool and collected is key, as your goal is getting this resolved — and quickly.
- Next, get more details from them. There may be a chance you actually did infringe on their IP, so get as much information as you can.
- Third, if their IP infringement claim is baseless, you’ll want to file a counter DMCA notice with Amazon.
Threat 6: Fake Reviews
Although Amazon’s gotten much better at filtering out sellers who flood others’ listings with fake one- or five-star reviews, but it’s still a problem that runs rampant. A clear way of distinguishing fake reviews is if they don’t have the Verified badge; another is to check for common language across listings as a way of seeing spammy reviews popping up.
Before you take any action, take screenshots of all reviews you think are suspect. Time matters, and acting first before gathering proof can hinder your case, so find and screenshot as many reviews as you can.
For fake reviews, contact Seller Support and provide them with identifying details and the screenshots.
Top Ways to Protect Your Brand
If the best defence is a strong offence, here are the top tips you can take in protecting your brand before encountering a threat.
- Put your logo everywhere, including on the product and its packaging, so your copyright is covered by US law. This also makes it more difficult for someone to copy and profit off your work.
- Use Amazon-provided barcodes (FNSKU) instead of the manufacturer-provided ones.
- Secure your account on Seller Central with two-step verification login.
- Consider using a third-party app that’ll alert you to possible suspicious activity, like changing your description or images.
- File a formal trademark for your brand and logo.
- Join Amazon Brand Registry so your brand and work are catalogued and identified back to you.
- Go a step further with Amazon Transparency, which assigns a unique and distinct barcode to your products.
- Take another couple steps in that direct with Amazon Project Zero, which is similar to Transparency but more bulked up (you can self-remove listings on your own instead of waiting for Amazon to do it).
- If you’re part of Brand Registry, you can use brand gating on your brand or on specific ASINs, which is like a digital moat around your brand and products.
This post requires you to be thorough and methodical, but don’t forget about other aspects of your business, like competitive pricing to draw in buyers and increase sales. Luckily, RepricerExpress runs in the background once you’ve set up your pricing rules, freeing up all the time in the world for you to protect your brand and fend off threats from rogue sellers. Even better, you’ll get a 15-day free trial when you sign up now, giving you both time AND money to make life easier for you.