If you’re wondering why you have experienced an Amazon ban or your Amazon seller account has been suspended, the reasons could range from poor performance to the selling of restricted items.
The majority of U.S. households purchase goods from Amazon. With the volume of business being generated, the marketplace has to regulate its sellers in order to ensure a reliable experience for users.
Why is Your Amazon Seller Account Suspended?
If you received an email stating that your Amazon account was suspended based on trademark infringement, copyright infringement, or patent infringement issues, it’s almost certain that another user reported you. Since a suspension isn’t the same as an Amazon ban, you have several avenues for remedying the situation. Before doing so, however, it’s important to understand the basics of IP laws you may have violated.
- Amazon Copyright Infringement: Copyright protection pertains to original works of authorship including photographs and written text. So, these materials from another listing may be considered copyright infringement.
- Amazon Patent Infringement: Patents protect novel inventions and provide exclusive rights to their creators. If you’re selling a product that utilizes patented technology, you are likely guilty of infringement. This is a particular problem with those who buy overseas items to resell.
- Amazon Trademark Infringement: Trademarks are recognizable designs, expressions or signs that differentiate brands from one another. They are meant to prevent a likelihood of confusion among consumers. Selling knockoff products or piggybacking on trademarked terms are both violations.
Each of these forms of infringement is very serious, and those who engage in them could face legal consequences outside of online marketplaces. Just because your Amazon seller account is suspended, however, doesn’t mean you’re guilty of any of these actions. To avoid liability, Amazon responds to all infringement claims that are properly completed and submitted.
In fact, an infringement claim doesn’t even have to come from a user on the site to get your Amazon seller account suspended. This means anyone can report the infringement on Amazon and claim that you’re violating their intellectual property rights. There are several reasons someone may submit a false report against your items. These are the most common:
- Immoral Competitors: Competition plays a huge role in the economy, but if your competitors are dishonest, they can submit a false claim of infringement against you. This will result in the immediate removal of your listings, and the reporter will have one less person to compete against.
- Inexperienced Rights Owners: The possibility exists that a rights owner may make a report of infringement in good faith even when a violation doesn’t exist. A lack of understanding of the First Sale Doctrine is a common cause of illegitimate infringement reports.
- Irate Customers: The old adage “the customer is always right” isn’t always accurate. Buyers may not read the description, attempt a return even after use, or outright lie about receiving a product. There are those who, if they don’t get their way, will file a fraudulent infringement notice as revenge.
If your Amazon seller account is suspended, it could be due to any of these illegitimate reasons. Of course, you may have also committed infringement even if you didn’t know it. Regardless of the legitimacy of the report, Amazon will respond by removing the listing. Fortunately, you typically won’t receive a suspension based on a single report.
Even if you don’t receive a suspension – or even worse, a ban – it’s important not to let false reports of infringement stand. Doing so will serve as a mark against your account, and if enough of these reports come in, you could be kicked off the site. Additionally, relisting an item or creating a secondary account to circumvent the removal will get you suspended and possibly banned.
Amazon Seller Account Suspended for Counterfeit
Amazon has a counterfeit problem. A recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 20 out of 47 products bought in the online marketplaces of Amazon, eBay Walmart, Sears and Newegg were counterfeit items. This means over 40 percent of the GAO’s purchases were knockoff items sold under another brand’s name.
If your Amazon seller account is suspended for counterfeit, it’s because someone reported that you were selling similar knockoff items. This report could actually come from a third party or a buyer who feels they received fake items. From 2010 to 2016, there were between 4,000 and 4,800 trademark cases filed yearly in federal courts, so it’s apparent that IP owners take these rights very seriously.
To avoid having your Amazon seller account suspended for selling counterfeits, keep the following tips in mind:
- Purchase Reputably: China doesn’t have the IP protections America offers, so if you’re purchasing stock from there, you may be getting counterfeit items. Ensure your supplier is reputable.
- Don’t Piggyback: It’s tempting to list a generic item with a brand name mentioned in the description. This results in more views. Even if you note the item is generic, though, it is still considered trademark infringement.
- Careful with Photos: Never use a trademarked item’s photo to promote a generic product. The best practice is to upload your own photos.
- Watch Your Trademarks: If you’re selling items with your own trademark affixed, you need to ensure it’s not confusingly similar to registered trademarks within the same industry or class of goods. The best way to ensure this is to do a trademark search.
If your Amazon seller account is suspended for counterfeit goods, start by making sure you’re not violating someone’s intellectual property rights. If your supplier cannot prove that their products are legitimate, you may be receiving knockoffs. If you’re certain that you’re within your rights, though, you should have an Amazon Lawyer submit an appeal directly to Amazon to have your selling privileges reinstated.
Amazon Seller Account Suspended for No Reason
Due to malicious or uninformed infringement reports, there’s a chance that your Amazon seller account is suspended for no reason. There are other instances, however, when an account may be suspended without even being flagged for rule violations. If you receive an email stating that your account is under review, it doesn’t mean you’ve been reported for infringement. Unfortunately, your listings may still be removed during this time. While it may seem that your Amazon seller account was suspended for no reason, these reviews are common and can occur when you start dealing in a high number of sales.
There’s also a chance that you failed the identity verification process. Just because you receive an email stating you can no longer sell doesn’t mean you’ve been given an Amazon ban. Every email you receive should state the reason for your suspension and provide additional information on how to regain your ability to sell on the platform.
If you’re still having problems, you should contact a lawyer that handles amazon suspensions and bans.
Amazon Seller Account Suspended for How Long?
When your account has been temporarily suspended due to an internal review, you’ll have to wait until that review concludes before you can begin selling again. If the issue is related to potential infringement, though, there is no easy answer. While a suspension isn’t the same as an Amazon ban, it will remain in effect until the issue resolves itself.
You’ll need to submit an appeal with a plan of action attached in reply to a suspension. Amazon will then respond. This process can take up to 60 days or more. This means you could experience months of lost revenue while you wait for your appeal to go through the process.
Amazon employees are inundated with infringement reports and appeals every single day. This explains the slow process, but you can speed things along by avoiding the following mistakes in your appeal:
- Wordiness: Get right to the point in your appeal. Amazon employees read countless appeals daily, so simply providing the facts of the violation along with your plan of action is the best course.
- Conflicting information: Ensure that every message sent to Amazon is consistent. If you contradict yourself it will be a clear red flag.
- Don’t let emotion take over: The worst thing you can do is overstate your case or injure another Amazon seller without cause. This could lead to infringement or litigation claims against you.
If you’ve been wrongfully reported for infringement, you can provide evidence showing that you didn’t violate Amazon’s terms of service. Another option is to contact the individual who reported your items directly. If you can convince them that no infringement has taken place, they can contact Amazon to retract their claim. In any of these situations, because you can do or say things that can hurt your case, we strongly suggest that retain an attorney before taking any action.
Amazon Seller Account Suspended Appeal
When someone reports your items as infringement, Amazon provides their contact information so you can remedy the situation directly. If this doesn’t work, you have a few options at your disposal.
The Amazon seller account suspended appeal process can be used for claimed violations against any form of intellectual property. Amazon’s website states that, to recover your account after a notice of infringement, you must not relist the products that caused the complaints, and you must indicate how you will ensure that your products will not infringe again. If you are aware that you infringed upon another party’s IP rights, you should immediately take corrective action.
Those who were wrongfully reported should still send in their appeal. Regardless of your culpability in infringement, though, your appeal should include the following:
- Proof of ownership or right to sell if claim was inappropriately made.
- Proof of authenticity of claimed counterfeit items (e.g. order IDs or invoices).
- Steps you’ve taken to cease any infringement if you were in violation of IP rules.
- Additional relevant information pertaining to the issue.
Every plan of action submitted by those who engaged in infringement should include an introductory paragraph, description of issue, action steps being taken to prevent further infringement and a concluding paragraph. Those wrongfully accused of infringement should include pertinent IP law (e.g. copyright expired), evidence of ownership (e.g. patent number) and any other evidence supporting their appeal (e.g. invoices from manufacturer).
Because of the delicate nature of these actions and the potential repercussions of mistakes, we advice that you hire a lawyer to assist you.
Suspended Amazon Account Reinstated
Once your suspended Amazon account is reinstated, your goal is to avoid having additional listings removed. Being suspended multiple times or having an appeal repeatedly rejected can result in an Amazon ban, and this is a difficult position to come back from. Those who actively engaged in infringement – knowingly or not – can avoid further issues by following their submitted plan of action.
If your suspended Amazon account is reinstated after a bad faith infringement report, however, you may have bigger issues at hand. Malicious competitors or irate customers can create numerous fake emails to have your items removed. Even if your account is eventually restored each time, you’re losing out on substantial income every time this occurs. If it’s a competitor engaged in these actions, you may have a claim of unfair competition.
Amazon Ban Attorneys – Mandour & Associates
Many entrepreneurs sell on Amazon as their sole source of income. This can make a suspension – or even worse, a ban – a costly and disastrous outcome. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with both these issues. While it may be difficult to handle these issues on your own, the help of an intellectual property lawyer can get you on the right track to reinstatement. We understand just how detrimental an Amazon ban or suspension can be, so we’ll work hard to have your selling privileges reestablished.
If you are dealing with an Amazon ban or account suspension, please contact us today for a consultation.