People have been trying to protect their intellectual property for years. In fact, the first trademark legislation passed in the English Parliament in 1266. This task has only become more challenging as the internet opens more doors for international trade.
Amazon has taken over as the powerhouse of online retails sales. Because of this, many small businesses have turned to the platform to sell their products. This ends up exposing them to increased competition on a global level before they are ready.
Opportunistic individuals here in the US and foreign countries will take advantage of this naivety and begin producing copycat products that undercut the price of the original item.
It sounds harsh, but you can’t stop these people. What you can do is take steps to make it significantly harder for them, and hopefully inspire them to move on to easier targets.
Why Isn’t Amazon Liable?
People have tried to hold Amazon liable for the sale of counterfeit and infringing product sales. The courts have yet to find Amazon responsible. The company successfully argues that they are not a seller itself, merely a platform for sellers.
While Amazon claims they take steps to prevent counterfeiters, it doesn’t stop all of them. The company currently faces many lawsuits, from businesses both big and small complaining that Amazon doesn’t do enough and profits from these counterfeit sales.
One notable lawsuit is from Daimler AG. This is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. They filed a lawsuit claiming Amazon has profited off of the sale of wheels that violate Daimler’s patents.
Protect Your Products
If someone steals your product ideas and you have no protections in place, you are to blame for your predicament. Before you start selling on Amazon, you need to have patents, copyrights, and trademarks in place. This will give you legal ownership and make it much easier to prove that ownership.
The second thing you need to do is secure the right contracts. Many sellers turn to overseas manufacturers in China to produce their products. It is these factories that turn around and start competing with their client on Amazon.
Hire a firm that can secure both intellectual property ownership in China and create secure contracts with your suppliers and manufacturers.
What You Can Do When Someone Steals Your Product Ideas
The first thing you should do is file an Infringement Report Form with Amazon. This lets you report copyright, trademark, patent, and any other ownership infringement concerns. You will need to tell Amazon why you think the product infringes:
- The physical product or package uses unauthorized content or images
- The physical product or package is pirated
- The product image is unauthorized usage
- The Product Details text is unauthorized usage
It can take days or months for Amazon to investigate and take action on your report.
Take Legal Action
If the infringing party is in the United States, you may have the ability to file in court and make a claim against them. If you are successful, you can stop their sales and recover lost profits.
When it comes to international sellers, things get a bit more complicated. Many counterfeit sellers know what they are doing is wrong and hide their true identity. If you do find the seller, you will need to file your infringement claim in their country.
This can be an expensive and drawn out process. While you may succeed with your claim, the financial investment may make the entire venture counterproductive.
Be Ready for Copycats
Having the tools in place and ready for action before you start selling on Amazon is one of the most important things you can do to protect your product ideas. Sadly, you can’t stop people from copying your products. What you can do is stop them when you discover them.
If you don’t have the right protections in place, it is your own fault for being powerless against these copycats. Don’t let yourself and company become helpless; we can help you create the right protections to stop knockoff producers in their tracks.
Contact us today, and we can help you protect your products on Amazon.