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Exclusive: Amazon Experts Weigh in on Seller Suspensions

Seller suspended false infringement claimExclusive:

If you sell private label or wholesale products, you might have jumped out of your skin at the recent news about the increase in false infringement claims resulting in sellers just like you being banned from Amazon.

A 'false infringement claim' means that an unscrupulous competitor or irate customer can basically submit a form on Amazon claiming that you are selling a counterfeit product. In many cases, Amazon just ensures the form is completed 'correctly' and then pulls your listing down or bars you from selling the product or - in the worst case - bans you from selling on Amazon.

So I reached out to my top experts to get their advice for you. I'm so thankful I have instant access to them! It's all here for you, below.

Note: If you have been suspended, contact my only trusted partner who can help you, Scott Margoluis at FeedbackRepair.net. His advice is at the end of this article.

Lastly: If you source retail arbitrage ('RA') or online arbitrage ('OA'), you're not immune to being banned! A customer or even the brand owner can easily get your account suspended - or at least, 'on notice'- by complaining to Amazon. RA and OA are NOT 'dead', but remember you're at a far greater risk versus if you were sourcing and selling products via private label and/or wholesale. If you need help with soucing wholesale, click here. If you need help with sourcing private label, click here.

Read on, and 

keep me posted...

-Jordan

private label expert scott voelker

The first thing: If your private label product is selling well, apply for Amazon's Brand Registry. To qualify, you will need a basic website with your brand name, your products on the website with your mark and - if you can get it - a registered trademark.
Now, I have seen private label sellers get approved with NO trademark...but having one will give you a stronger case. Another recommendation: file for a patent and have "Patent Pending" on your packaging. Here's the deal though: If Amazon suspends you due to the false infringement claim, you wil stay suspended until you can prove you are the original owner and creator. It sucks, but it's the way it is when you are dealing with Amazon.
So, I also recommend: do not put all your eggs in Amazon's basket. Be sure to create your own online sales channel - independent of Amazon, by building an email list to market your products. So if Amazon 'goes down' you will have other ways of selling your products online. Also create social media channels for your product (e.g., Instagram or Facebook) as well as other sales platforms like Walmart.com, Ebay, Etsy and any other ones that your market could buy your products.
Finally: Go after less competitive products or create a brand new style only you can create. I personally would rather have 10 products doing 100 sales per day than 1 product doing that same 100. Spread out your skus and go wide and not deep. That is my personal strategy moving forward and what my students are doing as well."
Scott Voelker, founder of TheAmazingSeller.com (Get Scott's free "how to find a great private label product" workshop here.

"Operation Physical Products Jason FladlienRemind yourself of this: We are living in the greatest time of selling on Amazon, specifically because so many things are up for grabs.

The upside? We are on the forefront of the most amazing commerce evolution since the industrial age.

The downside? There are things that haven't been figured out completely or streamlined yet. False infringement claims right now can be potentially abused by unscrupulous sellers and Amazon is very much into minimizing any potential liability, so they err on the side of caution.

The beautiful thing about this is if you are the least bit prepared, you can easily handle these fraudulent claims.

One example: for next to nothing you can have your lawyer draw up a standard form that you send out if this ever happens to you that outlines (as lawyers are so good at doing) the penalty for false infringements. If you've ever seen one of these letters, it's intimidating. Think of it this way: homes that have dogs are almost never broken into by burglars because the burglar would much rather skip the home and just find one without a dog.

The same principle applies with your competition: they will mess with others who are not as prepared. This is just one of the many pragmatic ways we teach our sellers on how to solidify your Amazon presence to not only have the best marketing but the strongest staying power."

- Jason Fladlien, founder of Operation Physical Products

"I’ve had 2 people claim I was selling infringement items during my time as an Amazon seller. However they quickly withdrew their claim when I sent them my authorized letter from the factory.

Importing Amazon expert Manuel BecvarTo prevent or respond to infringement claims you can ask your factory to provide either a:

1) Letter of Authorization that you are selling the brand of the factory, or:
2) Declaration of the model number and product name if you are selling a PL item. This letter must state the name and address of the factory you bought it from, a model number or barcode (as used on Amazon, NOT the FNSKU), purchase date & quantity, shipment date as well as your company name and details. The supplier declares in the letter that I the owner of private label brand “ABC” and that I am authorized to sell his product with model number “123456”.
As a support they often provide a certificate or test report on top that has the model number (which is included on my Amazon product page) on it.
Obviously this only works with generic and “open” products that you can find in China and not any product that has design or patent protection."
- Manuel Becvar,  author of the Free Import Bible and founder of Import Dojo

 

Amazon private label and wholesale expert Skip McGrath"Be careful buying brand name products from Asian suppliers.  Many of them are fake and can lead to complaints.
Licensed merchandise (Disney, NFL, NBA and so on) are one of the most often faked, and lead to probably more manufacturer complaints than brand merchandise. Whenever I am about to buy licensed goods , unless I am buying direct from the manufacturer, I contact the seller (distributor, 3rd. party reseller, etc.) and ask them to send me a copy of their licensing agreement.
Legitimate resellers are used to this request —and will not hesitate to comply. However, non-authorized resellers will delay and give you excuses.  I never place the order until I get a copy a the agreement."
- Skip McGrath, eBay and Amazon selling expert (get his free sourcing tips and ideas here.)

Brad Degraw Amazon brand expertKeep your head up, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk and shorten your time in the penalty box:

1.) Be clear about your products. Set clear expectations with your images, title, bullets, and product description.
2.) Keep your account squeaky clean. We check our account every day (twice a day through the holidays) for customer questions, customer service, and any small fire that could arise.
3.) Have a backup listing. Before there is a problem create a variation for second or third listing for your products so it will live on even if something happens to the first listing.
4.) If you are accused of infringement, research the email address of the accuser then communicate your desire to find a solution. Its possible you crossed a line without knowing and if so being humble is helpful. Your accuser has no reason to help you since they've eliminated you from the Amazon market place.
5.) If you find there is amicable no solution available, you may need to remove the inventory from Amazon and sell through other channels.
6.) You could spend money on legal services, however I've yet to find a lawyer who would put a fixed cost on the service or a guarantee. I once spent more than 3 months of profits on legal services to reinstate a listing after a false accusation only to find we were no closer than when we started.

 

The scary email from Amazon is real, it's happened to me and it may happen to you as well. Just relax and follow the steps above. In the worst case scenario, if all else fails:

 

  • Sell the inventory through other channels.
  • Wholesale the inventory to another seller.
  • Sell through traditional retailers.
  • Bundle your inventory as a bonus with another product.
  • Export the inventory.
  • Enroll in flash sales or deal sites."

- Brad Degraw, Amazon private label expert and founder of AmazonSherpa.com

Amazon suspension expert"Here are some simple steps to protect you:

  1. Get brand registered.
  2. Have your products patented.  Mention the patent / patent # in your listing (IF you first verify that is within Amazon Terms of Service)
  3. Get trademark or copyright protection.
Have all of this "ready to go" so that you can submit it immediately in the case of a notification. You have to assert your rights immediately and have a bulletproof argument for how and why the claim is false.

 

If you can prove the origin of the false claim, you may have additional remedies in the form of counterclaims.

 

You will need to demonstrate to Amazon that you take all such complaints very seriously and show your intent to resolve the issue.

 

Always state your facts in such a way that they stand alone and without emotion.  Even if another unscrupulous entity is specifically subverting justice and trying to cause you harm, you are better off not finger-pointing, but laying out the proof in an incontrovertible way.

 

Keep calm.  Stay methodical.  State everything clearly and in a way that would easy for anyone to follow.

 

Make sure you name your attachments (evidentiary documents) and refer to them by name.  Again, you don't want Seller Performance to have to search for your documents.  You want it to be simple for them to connect the dots and make sure that any disinterested 3rd party could follow your argument.

 

If the above doesn't get you anywhere, get professional help.  If your attorney is not familiar with the inner workings of Amazon, they are likely not going to be your best resource."

 

- Scott Margoluis, Amazon seller and founder of FeedBackRepair.net

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • David Pollard February 8, 2017, 2:07 am

    Wow, although I fortunately haven’t experienced this problem – this information is gold! Thanks for the compilation Jordan.

  • Eugene February 9, 2017, 12:49 am

    Bookmarked

  • Lynne Norris February 9, 2017, 12:18 pm

    I have had this happen to me. Im a dropshipper so Im especially vulnerable. I had a seller who had only TWO items for sale, one of them being a $12 silverware set I had listed of course…. He notified Amazon that he was the brand owner of the silverware set and they just took his word & blocked me from selling it. I appealed and one of their departments found in my favor, but when it went back up the chain of command, they still denied me. I dont care so much about the item but I wish theyd get their act together about it and remove the black mark on my account.

    • Jordan Malik February 9, 2017, 1:56 pm

      Hi Lynne – Sorry to hear about that. I don’t recommend using dropshipping in general when selling on Amazon, because in MOST cases (not all) it can be very risky unless you have an exclusive arrangement with the brand manufacturer (i.e., you are the only one who is allowed to drop ship to the end customer). For those newer folks who are reading: Dropshipping is not allowed if you are selling via Amazon FBA (obviously – Amazon will only sell your items via FBA if the items are physically within their warehouse). Also, dropshipping is NOT allowed if you are buying your items via online retailers (e.g.., Walmart.com) and shipping directly to the Amazon customer from that retailer. For more info on Amazon’s seller policy on dropshipping and you: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201808430

    • Koen van den Heuvel June 3, 2017, 10:55 am

      Hello Lynne,

      I would like to know how long the process took for you to get your listing back up. Amazon just suspended my listing. Any tips for the process?

      Regards,

      • Jordan Malik June 3, 2017, 2:50 pm

        In case Lynne doesn’t see your post: the process can vary from 2 weeks to 9 months, and there is really no rhyme or reason that we (or anyone else outside of Amazon’s support) know. If you need help contact Scott at FeedbackRepair.net

  • Maggie March 4, 2017, 2:45 pm

    Excellent information! I was also hit with an infringement. Currently contesting it so am still awaiting the response.

  • Jamie June 30, 2017, 8:53 am

    I was recently hit with a trademark infringement notice. It was on a used Brainy Baby DVD I was selling. I have removed it from my inventory entirely. My question is what now? It says my account is under review. What should I do? Will my seller account get suspended? There is very little information out there addressing this.

    • Jordan Malik June 30, 2017, 2:17 pm

      Inquire with Amazon politely and ask what the status is. Tell them you made a mistake and you will not be selling that same DVD again. If your account gets suspended or your account status stays under review for an unreasonable amount of time, contact my colleage Scott at http://FeedbackRepair.net for trusted help.

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