Amazon Takedowns

Amazon is today’s largest online retailer globally. Amazon facilitates the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise year after year. In 2020 alone, Amazon reported net sales of over $386 billion – and online retail sales are only increasing.

Given these facts, Amazon has become a key market for companies, and the competition is fierce.

Sometimes, companies infringe on patents and trademarks when selling on Amazon. Because of this reality, Amazon has a strict policy against sellers who are even alleged infringers of intellectual property.

If competitors are infringing on your intellectual property rights, Amazon has a streamlined process for submitting an infringement complaint via Amazon, called an Amazon “takedown” demand or complaint.

The Amazon Takedown Procedure

True to its name, when a company submits a takedown complaint, it quite literally demands that Amazon remove the allegedly infringing products from a business’s Amazon sales platform.

Amazon’s takedown procedure often results in swift relief for companies whose rights are being infringed. The procedure can have serious financial consequences for online retailers, particularly given that some companies rely heavily—if not predominately—on their Amazon sales.

An Amazon takedown complaint refers to a formal complaint or notice submitted by a rights holder or a party claiming infringement on Amazon’s platform. This complaint is typically aimed at requesting the removal or takedown of a specific listing or product on Amazon that the complainant believes infringes on their intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, copyrights, or patents.

Common types of Amazon takedown complaints include:

Trademark Infringement Complaints

A rights holder may submit a complaint alleging that a product listing on Amazon infringes on their trademark rights. This could involve the unauthorized use of a brand name, logo, or other trademarked elements.

Copyright Infringement Complaints

If someone believes that a product listing on Amazon includes content that infringes on their copyright, such as images, product descriptions, or other creative works, they can submit a complaint to have the infringing content removed.

Other Violations

Amazon takedown complaints can also relate to other policy violations, such as selling counterfeit goods, engaging in unfair competition, or violating Amazon’s terms of service.

Defending Against a Takedown Complaint on Amazon

Given the sheer effectiveness and speed of Amazon’s takedown procedures, some companies abuse Amazon’s takedown procedure as a means of improper and unfair competition.

It is important to address takedown complaints with the same seriousness as a legal complaint. Failure to do so may result in some or all of a company’s products being delisted and removed from Amazon.

If a company ignores the takedown complaint long enough, Amazon will typically require the company to obtain a court order in order to relist their product. The legal process to obtain such an order can take years—and the company’s products are typically removed from Amazon during that period.

As such, it is imperative for companies facing takedown complaints to take immediate action and consult with legal counsel to protect their financial interests on Amazon.

Amazon Patent Express Program (APEX)

Amazon offers a voluntary procedure called APEX—the Amazon Patent Express Program.

Utility patent owners may submit a complaint via APEX, identifying specific product ASINs that allegedly infringe on utility patents.

Once submitted, Amazon notifies sellers listing on reported ASINs of the process so they can participate in an evaluation and defend their claim if they so choose.

Participation in an evaluation requires both parties to deposit $4,000 with the neutral evaluator. Amazon does not handle the deposit and does not retain any portion of the evaluator’s fee. The evaluator reviews submissions and determines whether the reported listings infringe the patent.

The winning participant receives their $4,000 deposit back. If the evaluator determines the reported ASINs infringe, Amazon removes those products from Amazon. If the evaluator finds in the seller’s favor, Amazon takes no action.

Once an evaluation is complete, winning utility patent owners are granted an APEX ID associated with this decision; brands can use the APEX ID from the winning evaluation to report future infringement of that patent on Amazon.

Like a takedown complaint, companies should not ignore APEX requests. Although technically voluntary, there are serious consequences for opting out, including the company’s allegedly infringing products being permanently delisted.

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