There are many ways to defeat listing hijackers and get them off your listings. This article is intended to provide basic methods to stop hijackers in their tracks. But the obvious question is “do we even need to?” Yes. The fact is when you have listing hijackers, you are losing sales, risk more complaints (in other words losing sales) and your risk of suspension is higher (in other words you could well end up out of business).
Stopping Hijackers using Amazon’s System
Within Amazon’s platform, there are easy ways to get hijackers off your listings. The process starts with sending emails through the dashboard and ends, often, with you working with Amazon’s staff to provide Plan of Action such as corresponding with Amazon’s staff to convince them to remove other sellers from your listings.
Cease and Desist Notices via Email
When you see others selling your products, do an investigation. Figure out why the seller should voluntarily stop selling your product. There are many avenues of persuasion. For example, if your product comes with a warranty and the infringing seller cannot provide your warranty. Or, if the products that the infringing seller(s) has in his/her inventory are old and lack newer features, that may form the basis.
The goal with any Cease and Desist letter is to get the infringing party to voluntarily stop selling. On Amazon, with account suspension always on every seller’s mind, the threat of a complaint means the threat of a total account suspension.
Just like you fear losing your account and would not risk your account for one product, the offenders feel the same way. Draft your C&D letter in a way that shows strength but also a willingness not to complain if the sellers simply stops selling your product.
Settling Issues with Amazon Hijackers
Now and then, you might be willing to let the seller exhaust his/her inventory and then stop selling. Sometimes, if the goods being sold are grey market, you may negotiate a license fee or you might buy your hijackers inventory to get it off the market….allowing you to avoid lowering your prices.
C&D letters do not have to be overly aggressive. They need to tell the Seller that they should stop selling or else they are putting themselves at risk of a complaint that could lead to their Amazon account being suspended.
If the C&D letters are not successful or, more likely, some sellers leave your listing while others remain, you can then take the next step: complain to Amazon.
Amazon provides a form online to fill out about hijackers. When you fill in the form, you must confirm that you are the “rights owner” and explain what intellectual property you own. For example, you could have:
- Full ownership of all rights to the product because you invented it;
- Full ownership of the images or verbiage used to describe the product;
- Ownership of the packaging design;
- Exclusive right to sell the product through an agreement with the manufacturer, or;
- You may be the only seller, or one of few sellers, that can provide the warranty.
After Amazon receives your complaint, they will send you questions that are similar to the emails that ask you to provide supplemental information for a Plan of Action. Provide the information in a manner that persuades the Amazon staff on the other side of the email that Amazon risks an unhappy customer if they continue to allow the hijackers to sell your product. This is what Amazon acts upon – use Amazon’s Leadership Principals that focus on 100% customer satisfaction to persuade Amazon to knock off the hijackers.
Stopping Hijackers Using US Courts
In addition to using Amazon’s system, you can always choose to sue and obtain a Court order directing that hijackers stop selling your product.
If you are thinking about choosing litigation to rid your listing of hijackers, you need to think about what laws or rights the hijackers are violating. For example, if the hijacker is selling counterfeit goods, infringing upon your Rights Owner / Intellectual Property Rights.
Courts can order Amazon to freeze the entire account and hold the sellers money. The Court can order, upon your request, that other businesses, like PayPal and banks, freeze the infringers’ accounts until the Court works it’s way through the issues.
Amazon will follow whatever court order you obtain.
Stopping Hijackers Using Foreign Courts: Bring the Battle & Fear to the Hijackers
If you have followed this law firm’s advice and filed for trademark protection where the major factories are located, you can also bring your case where it will frighten and effect the counterfeiter and/or infringer the most.
Trademarks can easily be filed in other countries either directly or via the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) or another method. When have filed, you can bring the weight of the hijacker’s local legal system down upon them….or at least frighten them into thinking that you are going to sue where it will hurt them.
CJ Rosenbaum Amazon LawyerCountries around the world, specifically including Vietnam, China, Thailand and India, have strengthened their RO / IP laws and courts in a concerted effort to become the IP centers of their regions. This fact is well documented and the laws in these countries are often more clear than the US.
Unlike the US, which has hundreds of years of court decisions that could affect your case, countries outside have newer laws. China, for example, didn’t codify its law until 2012. The laws in China are clear and relatively simple: whomever files to protect their rights first, owns the rights.
Ultimately, Amazon sellers need to know the basics about removing hijackers and basic intellectual property right law in order to protect their businesses.