For Amazon sellers, 2017 will go down as "the year of the intellectual property complaint."
Complaints like the one below are becoming commonplace for many sellers...
If you received one of these heart dropping, rage inducing notifications, you weren't alone.
It seems that just about everyone who sold products from brands that they didn't own got at least one IP complaint filed against them. That isn't the case of course, but if you're active in Amazon related online selling communities, it will seem that way.
But don't get mad, get educated.
What's an IP Complaint?
As it applies to Amazon, an intellectual property (IP) complaint is a formal complaint made by a brand owner or licensed brand agent alleging that other sellers on the Amazon marketplace are unlawfully using the company's brand name or other intellectual properties without permission to sell products.
Amazon made it extremely easy for a seller to file false claims against their fellow sellers. Sellers contact Amazon to file these complaints and then Amazon contacts the accused seller.
Amazon takes the same approach to these cases as I take with my boys when they are fighting...I just let them work it out themselves (until haymakers start getting thrown of course).
At the time of this writing, IP complaints have cooled off a bit as Amazon has finally noticed that they created a system that was very easy to abuse. Sellers who are abusing the process and are just trying to temporarily bump competitors off a listing are (fortunately) getting booted from the platform when they get caught.
Which Companies Do We Know Are Filing These Complaints?
It became clear that some brands were not interested in letting other sellers list products on their listings.
A member of my Facebook group FBA Today (Bver Vienneau) created a poll and asked members to share which companies they had received complaints from in the past.
This was amazing insight and I felt it merited sharing outside of just my group (which you should join by the way).
Some of these brands were mentioned much more than others. Goldie Blox and Fingerlings were both mentioned by over 40 sellers each!
Should I Avoid These Brands?
If you can, it is advisable to just avoid them altogether.
The exception being if you have already been approved by the brand explicitly.
I hate the feeling of "letting the bad guys win," and not selling brands because someone is filing false IP claims is hard to swallow. Life isn't fair and there is no point in risking your account health over a need for justice.
There are thousands of brands resellers can sell on Amazon that are less likely to file these complaints, although nothing is certain. Just because they haven't been mentioned in the list above doesn't mean you're in the clear.
Use your best judgement here but avoidance is wise.
How Do I Fight IP Complaints?
I'll share that in a future article 🙂