Private labeling secrets for new business owners – Who has the Legal Rights to Your Product and Brand on Amazon
Intellectual Property is applied to your listings and brand if you sell them on Amazon. Sellers should comply with the IP (Intellectual property) guidelines to ensure that they sell legal products. Its purpose is to protect the merchants and brands from selling knockoff and counterfeit products.
More than 2 million knockoff products sent by merchants to Amazon warehouses were seized and destroyed in 2020.
Over ten billion alleged dubious products on Amazon reportedly were confiscated before listing in their store. The products were all destroyed by Amazon to prevent reselling them in the supply chain. If you are the owner of those confiscated brands and products, is it Amazon or you who has the legal rights?
Keep reading to learn who has the legal rights to your product and brand on Amazon:
What are Intellectual Property Rights?
Intellectual property (IP) rights are legal rights given to individuals on things that they have created. As the owner creation you made, you have the exclusive right over its use for the duration of time. You have the right to sue an individual who infringes your IP rights without your permission.
Who has the Legal Rights to Your Product and Brand on Amazon?
Amazon entrusts the responsibility to their sellers in dealing with knockoff products and brands on their platform. Its thrust is to offer shoppers a wide array of goods and create a happy shopper experience. Amazon prohibits listings and brands that violate the rights of owners and the intellectual property rights of brands.
It is a natural thing that Amazon must do because they have invested over $700 million and hired over 10,000 people in 2020 to protect their platform from abuse and fraudulent activities.
You have the legal rights to the products and brands on Amazon through the following:
1. Right Owner’s Copyrights – Copyrights refer to your legal protection for your original works, such as books, writings, publications, periodicals, newspapers, thesis, musical compositions, artworks, paintings, drawings, and others.
Amazon entitles you to have copyright protection if you are an author of creative work and show proof that you own the original work. Use your copyrighted images on your product page, but you can’t use pictures from other sources without permission from the owner.
2. Right Owner’s Trademarks – Trademarks refer to legal protections for using symbols, words, designs, or logos by companies to identify their services or goods. As a trademark owner, you get protection from Amazon even if you do not register with a trademark office through common law trademark rights.
The trademarks are displayed on the product detail pages on Amazon in the brand names or product names listed on the page.
3. Rights Owners’ Patent – Patents refer to legal protections for discoveries and inventions. Under this legal protection, you have the right to make, use, or sell the patented invention for a certain number of years. There are two types of patents, namely, design patents and utility patents.
Utility patents are for a new machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, improvements, and process, and it protects the functions and structure of the product. As an owner of a patented product, you can report your complaints if a product or ASIN on Amazon infringed your utility patent.
A design patent is granted for the uniqueness of a product, but not because of its functionality.
4. Right Owner’s Parallel Imports – As a rights owner, you can stop the third party from importing their products into Brazil or European Economic Area without your consent. You cannot prohibit third parties from reselling legally imported products to these countries with authorisation.
You can complain about the parallel imports as an infringement of trademark or copyright. You have to identify if the product is a “parallel import” with your consent. You can also pinpoint the sellers listing on the Amazon product detail page that offer the parallel imports.
5. Owner’s Right of Publicity – The “right of publicity” is your right as a person to have control of the commercial use of your name, likeness, image, and identity. As a seller, you cannot add content that infringes an individual’s right of publicity nor use coercion to give in to your desire to use their rights.
The person can sue you if you violate their rights of publicity. Your account seller will get a suspension once the matter has reached Amazon’s attention.
6. Owner’s Right of Trade Secrets – Trade secrets are the rights of owners to keep any confidential information related to the company that gives a competitor an advantage. They include secret formulas in manufacturing drinks, coffees, beverages, soap making, cosmetics, secret food ingredients, or a chemical formulation in pharmaceutical companies.
Creating similar products with the same formula from a former employer could be considered an infringement of trade secrets.
A nondisclosure agreement between two contracting parties is vital to keep the trade secrets a secret between companies and employees. An example is a ghostwriter sign a nondisclosure agreement for the client’s exclusive ownership of the book. A soda company has a secret formula that makes it a unique brand. Pirating a chemist to work for a competitor is an infringement of the trade secret law.
Now that you understand how legal rights work on Amazon, you might want to check out this blog too: Things You Should Never Do to Get Your Amazon Account Suspended.
Do I have the right to complain to Amazon for a dishonest buyer who claimed that my item was in bad shape?
Yes, you have the right to complain to Amazon. Sellers must be careful from suspicious claims. Ask the shopper to return the item to you before supplying a replacement or refund.
Does a manufacturer have a right to bypass the gating process on Amazon and directly inform the resellers?
Yes. Manufacturers have a right to do it if the product falls under the Possibly Counterfeit category. Amazon will take down a knockoff product as there is an absence of an authorised chain of supply.
Do I have the right to resell an Item I bought from a manufacturer on Amazon using the same platform?
You have no right to resell an item you buy from a manufacturer because you are not an authorised Amazon reseller. You can resell an item outside of the platform though.
An infringement of an owner’s right can affect your performance as a seller. You have to respect their Intellectual property rights in the same way that they respect your rights if you sell copyrighted, patented, or trademarked items. Any violation on your end means account suspension or removal of your product from the listing.