Amazon and E-Commerce Law

Amazon and other E-commerce platforms are governed by their own agreements and tools so it is important for sellers to be protected in order to be successful.

If you currently sell on any of the Amazon platforms or you aspire to sell on Amazon, you must get counseling on Amazon Law. This firm considers “Amazon Law” as a law within the legal system. Like most companies, Amazon is governed by its own “Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement.” This is a suite of optional services for sellers including: Selling on Amazon, Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon Clicks, Transaction Processing Services, and the Marketplace Web Service.

Amazon has provided a “Best Practices” guideline for its sellers. It consists of 10 tips to that can help you be successful selling on Amazon.com. Any swaying from these tips can land you in trouble with “Amazon Law.”

How Can You Sell On Amazon?

Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM): FBM means Fulfilled by Merchant. With FBM, the seller lists the product on Amazon and handles storage and all aspects of order fulfillment. How does FBM work? As a seller, you’ll set up an Amazon account. Create your product listings and store, pack, and ship the products as customers order them on Amazon. You’ll take responsibility for any late, missing, or damaged arrivals.

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon): When you create a Seller’s Account on Amazon Seller’s Central, ship your products into Amazon’s warehouse, and make it available for Amazon Prime’s Two-Day shipping - you are an Amazon FBA seller! The way that we describe it sounds simple BUT Amazon FBA sellers are held to a high standard. At Amazon, the customer is #1, not the seller. Therefore, the Amazon seller has to comply with all of Amazon’s requirements with respect to sellers.

Two of the most frightening occurrences that can happen to an Amazon seller are (a) products listing suspension or a (b) account suspension. The exact reason for an Amazon suspension is not often known when it comes to selling on Amazon.

You can get suspended on Amazon for the following reasons:

  1. Policy. Common Policy suspensions include: Inauthentic/counterfeit items, intellectual property (IP) infringement, forged or manipulated invoices, abuse of various detail page or listing functions, etc.
  2. Performance:  Common Performance suspensions include:
  1. Order defect rate (ODR), on-time delivery, late dispatch, cancellation rate, refund rate, customer service
  2. Deception: Deception issues are varied and include fraud, black hat behavior and illegal activity.

* Amazon's terms and conditions/policies are lengthily and you could be suspended for violating any aspect of them.

Brand Registry: Amazon Brand Registry helps you protect your intellectual property and create an accurate and trusted experience for customers on Amazon. What is the caveat? You must be the legal own of the trademark for your brand. Once you enroll, Brand Registry gives you greater influence and control over your brand’s product listings on Amazon.

Merch By Amazon (MBA): Merch by Amazon allows individuals and companies their own designs on the platform and to be printed on tee shirts, sweatshirts, premium tee shirts, and there are more items coming. There is a low barrier of entry to get involved with MBA as there are no upfront costs and no risk. You simply supply the artwork, choose the product type and color(s), and then promote your products in your app, blog or on social media. Amazon takes care of the rest, including production, sales, shipping and creating a product page on Amazon.com - all at no cost to you.

Kindle Direct Publishing KDP): Kindle Direct Publishing allows the every day person to publish their ebooks and paperback books on Amazon for free. Publishing takes less than 5 minutes and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours.

https://youtu.be/OPLtEkyg3OU

Copyright and Trademark Infringement

Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.

Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services. Amazon sellers who uses works or marks that are protected by copyright and trademark law by another seller face the danger or product listing and/or account suspension.

Amazon Suspensions

Product Listing Suspension: A listing suspension is where you have been prevented from selling a single product, type of product, or brand of product. Usually, the rest of your account is still active. You can still sell other products on Amazon and continue to make revenue. However, you may not make the same amount of money if you lose the ability to sell a particular listing.  

Account Suspension:  One of the worse emails that you can receive is an email from Amazon that states, “You’re selling privileges have been suspended.” This means that you cannot sell on Amazon, AT ALL. You cannot access the money that you have already collected that but Amazon has not distributed to you yet. Additionally, you cannot even resell your product if you are an Amazon FBA Seller and your product is contained in an Amazon warehouse.

While your Amazon Seller Account is suspended you run the risk of facing these other loses:

  • Storage fees
  • Note payments due to Amazon for loans you may have accepted
  • Your vendors still need to be paid
  • You employees all still need to be paid;
  • And if you are using FBA, you cannot simply sell your products elsewhere, because they are in the Amazon warehouses.

In either suspension scenario, the most basic way to lift the suspension is to send Amazon a plan of action that we can prepare for you. you need a o submit to Amazon. A plan of action generally consists of three parts:

  • The root causes that led to the issue.
  • The actions you have taken to resolve the issue.
  • The steps you have taken to prevent future issues.

Arbitration

Arbitration is the out-of-court resolution of a dispute between parties to a contract, decided by an impartial third party (the arbitrator)—is faster and more cost effective than litigation. AAA cases are often settled prior to the arbitrator’s decision—and nearly half of those cases incur no arbitrator compensation.

If your matter is not resolved directly with Amazon, a seller has the option to pursue their case before the American Arbitration Association. You prepare the Demand for Arbitration and "serve" Amazon; this process is similar to starting a lawsuit. Next, Amazon responds to the Demand for Arbitration. The American Arbitration Association will send a list of arbitrators to both parties and both parties will number their individual choices. Every case has a preliminary conference with the arbitrator. Then the arbitrator will schedule a document exchange between the parties. Within three months of filing for arbitration, a hearing will be scheduled. You will receive the results of the hearing about two weeks after the hearing occurs.

Almost all of Amazon's Terms of Service documents provide for Arbitration. When you agree to the Terms of Service you are consenting to Arbitration. However, Arbitration is not a bad process as it saves times and money for both you and Amazon.

Please note that Arbitration is not necessarily the end of the road. Non-binding arbitration can be valuable for less complex business-to-business and business-to-consumer disputes where the parties may be too far apart in their viewpoints to mediate or are in need of an evaluation of their respective positions. Since the decision is not binding, you still have the opportunity to file a claim in federal or state court.



Just a Trademark

The Ultimate Trademark Package

Initial consultation regarding your trademark, the trademark process, trademark classes, and estimated USPTO filing fees via telephone or video
Comprehensive clearance search for one trademark with up to five classes/services searched (Value $150)
Attorney analysis of trademark search report, prepared opinion letter, phone consultation to review and discuss clearance search
Prepare and file the trademark application with the USPTO (excluding filing fees for one class of goods/services in the amount of $275. Also, additional classes are $275 each.)
No-charge phone and email communications and updates regarding the status of your application
Respond to non-substantive office actions
Forward the trademark certificate to you after registration
Prepare and file Statements of Use/Requests for Extension (if applicable)
Prepare and file the trademark application with the USPTO (including filing fees for one class of goods/services. Additional classes are $275 each.)
Prepare and file the trademark application with the USPTO (including filing fees for one class of goods/services. Additional classes are $275 each.)
Respond to substantive office actions
Prepare customized cease and desist letters against trademark infringers
Consultation on naming strategy, brand development, brand materials, marketing, domain name and social media usage
Ongoing, helpful tips on protecting your brand and your new registered trademark

After you file a trademark application the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) may issue something called an office action. When an office action is issued on your trademark filing, this can be as serious as a refusal of your trademark application, or, simply a request to amend something in the application.

The "Just A Trademark" package includes non-substantive office actions. These office actions may require an amendment to your trademark application but is not a refusal of your trademark filing. These can usually be answered via a phone to the UPTSO office or via letter. Substantive office actions are not included but may be handled for an additional fee.

The "Ultimate Trademark Package" includes both non-substantive and substantive office actions. A substantive office action is generally considered a refusal of your trademark due to the similarity to a pre-existing application or trademark. We will respond to substantive office actions which requires substantial legal research and a robust written response if you chose to fight the office action. The "Ultimate Trademark Package" also includes consultation about branding, ongoing support, and we will pursue cease and desist claims against people who illegally use your registered trademark.

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