As an Amazon seller, you must have heard or come across the term ‘IP Claim’ or ‘IP Complaint’ at least once. This term gained a lot of frenzy around 2017 when sellers noticed a rise in IP claims on their accounts.
And guess what? Most of them turned to Amazon seller forums for answers which only intimidated them more!
Since then, Amazon sellers have been wary enough to not sell products or brands that would raise an IP complaint on their account. Beware, sometimes you wouldn’t be able to even figure out if the IP claim is genuine or not.
So, if you are looking to understand more about IP claims, how to find out if it is valid and how to resolve one, then you are at the right place.
You’ll also learn the difference between IP claims and brand restrictions as well as how to avoid getting IP claims on your account.
Let’s get started!
What is an IP complaint?
IP stands for Intellectual Property which means intangible or non-physical assets that are owned by a person/company. The most common types of intellectual property include trademarks, copyrights, and patents, which we will discuss in brief here.
- Trademarks are identifiers like brand names, logos, taglines, or anything symbolic to represent a product/service/organization. It is exclusively assigned to the particular organization and legally protects the branding so that no one else can misuse or copy it.
- Copyrights protect creative works like photos, texts, artwork, and designs. It protects the expression of the idea by the author/artist, not the whole idea in itself. It also allows the author or owner the exclusive right to copy, use or duplicate their own material.
- Patents protect property from being invented by others for a certain period of time. There are two types of patents that you should know -
- Utility Patent – Protects the way the property functions
- Design Patent – Protects the design of the property
It is important to know each of these IP rights, and it can be overwhelming too to understand them all. But, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to sail through your business and prevent any sort of IP complaints against your account.
Now, what are IP complaints?
IP Claims/Complaints simply refer to intellectual property charges filed on your account. For example, if a seller or business finds that you are selling a similar product to theirs, they can file a complaint against you for violating their intellectual property.
There are many other reasons why an IP complaint can be filed such as if sellers find that you are selling the product at a lower rate than them, or to reduce their competition by closing your account, and so on.
There is no restraint on the ability to file an IP complaint, hence the reason for the increased IP complaints over the last few years. Once an IP claim is filed on an account, Amazon removes the listings and suspends the account from selling further, since it doesn’t want to take responsibility for the IP infringement.
Thus, Amazon doesn’t bother to check whether the IP claims are legitimate or filed just to bring down the competition. Sometimes, you might even receive IP claims from invalid sources to simply scare you off.
How do I know if the IP complaint is valid?
You will receive a legitimate IP complaint in either an email from Amazon or in the performance notifications in seller central.
The email from Amazon would usually have the subject line “Notice: Policy Warning” or it varies depending on the region/time. The emails from Amazon must be read thoroughly so that you don’t miss out on any information that might help you.
You will not receive legitimate or valid IP complaints from addresses other than Amazon’s. In case you receive one from such addresses, you do not need to respond to it or worry at all.
If you wish, you can report the same to Amazon so that it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Difference between IP Complaint and Brand Restriction
There is a common misunderstanding about an IP claim and brand restriction where sellers can’t distinguish clearly the difference between the two.
As you know, Amazon places selling restrictions on certain brands and products where only after getting approval or ungating them, you can sell on Amazon. This is called a brand restriction.
However, even after ungating Amazon-restricted brands, you may receive an IP claim on your account, thus prohibiting selling on Amazon.
On the other hand, an IP claim is an intellectual property complaint filed by a seller or brand.
How can an IP complaint affect my Amazon business?
While getting an IP complaint on your account can be stressful, there’s not much to worry about if you are receiving it for the first time. Your account won’t be suspended for a first-time IP claim, but the particular ASIN might be suspended.
However, if you constantly receive IP complaints on various ASINs, this will affect your account health and performance.
As you know, if your account health status is poor, Amazon can permanently deactivate or suspend your account.
Getting your account suspended makes you lose your selling privileges and you might have to rethink your selling strategy or give up the business entirely.
How do I resolve an IP complaint?
When you receive an IP complaint, you’ll also get the contact details of the IP rights owner which can help you. Contact them first and clarify the reason for the complaint, as well as let them know that you take their complaint seriously.
Their response should hopefully help you identify if the claim is valid or not, and you’ll be able to figure out the next step.
If the complaint is baseless, then you can ask the owner/seller/brand to withdraw the claim from Amazon. They might agree to do so if they see that you have not violated any IP rights or if you agree to take down the specific ASINs.
In case you do not get a reply, you can follow up within 24-48 hours, hence letting Amazon know that you have contacted the brand owner twice but haven’t gotten any response.
If the complaint is legitimate, then you need to issue a statement saying that you have understood the basis of the complaint and assure them that you will take necessary action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
You can also let them know that you will close the listings of the affected ASINs, thus resolving the claim faster.
How to prevent an IP complaint on my account?
The best way to avoid getting an IP complaint is to avoid selling products from “troublesome” brands. There’s no other way, really.
Some brands are known to issue IP claims even when you have approval for selling. These brands must be avoided at all costs if you don’t want to receive an IP claim against your account.
We have compiled a list of brands that issue IP claims that you might want to check out.
You can also reach out to other sellers on Facebook groups and find out more about such brands.
You can also use available extensions to alert you whether the brand falls under the ‘IP Claim’ category or get online arbitrage deals without any IP claims delivered to you.
Apart from this, monitoring your account health status and checking the performance notification on Seller Central regularly can keep your account suspension at bay. Hence, it’s better to be cautious and keep a check on your account at all times.
As an Amazon seller, it is important to know how an IP claim can affect your business and the measures to take to avoid any IP claims on your account.
With this guide, you’ll be able to protect your account better as well as gain a better understanding of how to resolve an IP complaint.
Also, be vigilant of the emails and notifications you get from Amazon, and take proper action immediately. For more information on Amazon selling and online arbitrage, keep checking amz blog.