Other seller counterfeiting and piggybacking my companies products


#1

Hello!

I’m having some issues with some other sellers counterfeiting my companies product and listing them against us on our own listing pages using our own UPC.

My company manufactures the product in question and we use Amazon as a marketplace. In the year that we’ve been open Amazon quickly became our top grossing selling venue and our products have become quite popular on Amazon.
Now we have other sellers creating their own counterfeit versions of our products using cheap materials that we don’t use in our manufacturing process and selling their own inferior counterfeit versions of our products on our own listing page under our own UPC.

Upon contacting seller support I submitted all of our copyright information to Amazon legal and have listed our company with Amazon Brand Registry in an attempt to lock in our UPC’s so that no other seller can do this again but that process is TAKING FOREVER!

I have also done test buys of the counterfeits and submitted pictures of the counterfeit products alongside our own product to detail the massive differences in the two.

I have also contacted all three of the sellers that are listing their counterfeits against us and warned them of pending legal action if that did not stop infringing upon our copyright and selling their products as our own.

Some of the counterfeiters have even become so bold as to fulfill through Amazon. I have contacted Amazon on a daily basis about this and It’s been three months since we started this process to lock our UPC’s and get these sellers to stop.

Because the counterfeiters are selling their products for MUCH CHEAPER than we sell our own, and because one of them is fulfilling through Amazon, they have the buy box on our products. Because the process of reporting the violation and locking in our brand and listings is taking so long, we’ve lost literally thousands of dollars in sales.
On top of our sales suffering, my companies reputation has suffered greatly as well. We also do business in a number of different retail stores across the country. To try to save my companies sales I recently went about trying to make more retail store sales. Many of the stores that I talked to had already considered buying our brand buy ordered a test of the product from Amazon. Because the counterfeiters had the buy box, what the retailers received was an inferior counterfeit version of our product and they ultimately ended up purchasing from our competitors. We’ve also taken a substantial beating on social media about our products being “crap” because so many going out are the counterfeit versions.

If we don’t get these people off of our listings and get them to stop claiming to sell my companies product in the next few days, I’m going to have to close my company that I’ve worked so hard to build.

I have contacted our lawyer about the problem but I’m unsure of where to tell him to start working or what I need him to do. Do I have him contact the other sellers and take action against them? Against Amazon?

I was also wondering if there are any other sellers that have had experience with this process taking so long? Even the test buy and the violation reporting is taking forever. To me it’s obvious that this is a major violation that these sellers are committing and you would think that it would not take long for Amazon to act on the proof that I’ve submitted.

Or if there are any sellers that could advise any action that could get us the result that we need (removing the counterfeiters from our listings) faster. Like I said, if we don’t get our sales back up in the next few days, I won’t be able to pay my employees or our bills.

Any and all advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you so much.


#2

I deal with this problem on a weekly basis. Here are the steps you need to do to get the counterfeiter’s removed:

  1. Purchase the counterfeiter’s product so that you can examine it and confirm that it is indeed counterfeit. This step is required, even if you are certain that it is counterfeit. Amazon still requires a physical confirmation.

  2. Once the test purchase arrives and you’ve confirmed your suspicions, file your complaint here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/contact-us Be sure to select “report a violation of our rules” and fill in your test purchase order number. Be specific but brief and to the point with the body of your complaint. State the seller’s name who’s violating your trademark, the ASIN of the product, and how you determined it was counterfeit.

  3. Wait. Amazon usually takes counterfeiters down within 24 hours, but weekends may slow up the process a little.

  4. DO NOT LEAVE THE COUNTERFEITER FEEDBACK. It is tempting, but don’t do it. You can get in trouble for that.

  5. Contact the counterfeiter by filing a return request. Allow them the opportunity to accept a return for a full refund and pay return shipping. If they give me any grief with this step, I file an AZ claim as I have no time to screw around with these unscrupulous merchants. An AZ claim will recoup your money if the seller doesn’t refund.


#3

If I am looking at the right listings, you are selling bracelets in Sports and Outdoors.

The material is for outdoor use but this might also be considered jewelry. If you can be approved to sell in jewelry, it might help solve some of these issues.

I’m not taking sides or mean to downplay your product, but it looks like twine braided into a bracelet without any branding. It would be the type of product that would invite others to jump on. If you continue with the product on this venue, you might ask Amazon to lock the listing.

You have been given good advice here. Go through Amazon before getting a lawyer actively involved. No need to burn any bridges if you don’t need to. If it come to it, talk to your lawyer. They charge a lot of money because they know what to do.

Good Luck


#4

Dommiesan:

Thank you. I have been searching through threads and looking for your posts. Your post here is a great outline and thanks for the link. I am currently starting the process of dealer with some sellers. Just got the first round of purchases on Saturday from one seller.

Out of curiosity, how many claims of selling fraudulent products before an actual suspension? and is the first just for a period of time, then they get reinstated?


#5

I do not know how Amazon punishes violators in cases like this. Many of them continue selling after their violating listings are taken down. I believe (but I’m not positive) that they are issued a policy warning. I would think that repeated policy warnings are not good. I would also think that if a seller is “on the edge” and close to suspension this would also not help them.

Amazon suspensions are always permanent. They don’t do “time outs”, just expulsion.


#6

I am sorry about your predicament. Unfortunately I think your bigger problem is the 2,350 results that come up when someone searches paracord bracelet.

I was offered para-cord bracelets wholesale in the early spring. I passed because even 6 months ago I thought there was too much competition. They were a hot item over the summer and in my opinion the product has passed it’s peak. Last year it was the braided power bracelets with the tiny titanium balls inside the cord. The year before it was the silicone bracelets with the power holograms. Ten years ago it was the yellow Live Strong bracelets which were soon sold under every color under the sun without the live strong slogan.

There are sellers with huge varieties of paracord bracelets as low as a buck on Amazon. There are bracelets with Stainless Steel shackles for clasps, ones with survival gear built into them, even ones with compasses braided into them like watches. There are licensed team spirit para-cord bracelets for every college football team. There are para-cord bracelet kits, kindle books, and bundles with survival knives. The market is saturated and your “trademark” is worthless on a generic product with nothing to differentiate it from the rest of the pack even with no other sellers piggybacking on your listing. I’m sure the bracelets will be offered fulfilled from China for $2.00 delivered soon if they aren’t already.

A word of advise. If you are making your bracelets in the USA with USA made components make sure it is on your product, on your packaging, in your pictures, in your bullet points, and not left to the very end of a 10 line description which mentions untying the bracelet and using the cord for a bra strap in a pinch. (I never knew broken bra straps were so common an occurrence that it warranted wearing a special bracelet) Put made in USA up front as prominently as you can. Shout it from the rooftops. It is the only thing people selling under your listings cannot compete with and will for many buyers actually justify your premium price. If all the buyers on your detail pages are expecting an American made product Chinese counterfeits will have a difficult time passing for your item and their sellers feedback will show it. Waiting for Amazon to come to your rescue by booting the piggybackers or locking your UPC will not magically turn things around for you. You have to be proactive when you have such daunting competition.

I just searched paracord bracelet again and this time 2,420 results came up. I went through a dozen pages of results and I didn’t see a single one of your items. By the way I noticed there is a band named Strong Point who had a CD released in 2006. Is it possible that you are infringing on their trademark.

I truly hope you can do something to pull yourself out of this situation. Good luck.


#7

Hello,

If you believe this seller is offering an item different than advertised, please contact our Seller Performance Team. Any reports of a possible violation of the Amazon.com Community Rules and/or Participation Agreement are handled by our Seller Performance team. You will need to file a report with the Seller Performance team and provide an Order ID Number of a test buy that confirms your claim that these sellers are not offering the item(s) advertised. Please do not use the terms “trademark” or “copyright” in the report as this will cause delay as Seller Performance seeks guidance from the Legal Department.

Please contact the Seller Performance team through the following form:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports/contact-us

To facilitate an investigation, be sure you include the following information in your complaint, as applicable:

  • The ASIN/ISBN of the item’s detail page and the product title
  • The store or business name of the seller you are reporting
  • Your order ID
  • A concise explanation of the violation

If you have questions about our policies, please search on “Selling Policies” in our seller Help pages.

All reports are thoroughly investigated by our investigations team. For privacy reasons, the results of our investigations cannot be disclosed, but be assured we will take any disciplinary actions we find appropriate.


#8

Thanks everybody for your awesome feed back and constructive criticism.

I have done the test buys and reported the violations several times, but it’s taken far longer than 24 hours to resolve, but that could be because of the mention of “copyright” that slows everything down. That was really good advice and it makes sense.

In terms of our competition, yes, it’s a tough beat. Soft Sell is absolutely right that we need to put some distance between us and our competition by using the fact that our products are 100% American Made as an edge.

The bracelets are not just twine braided together, although I can certainly understand how they look like that. They’re actually made of certified military spec type III 550 cord and crafted with a specially manufactured clip that’s designed to break open under a certain amount of pressure. When we first started selling our product, our main customers were soldiers and law enforcement who actually needed to have the cord handy on their wrist.
Because these guys were using our product in the field, we couldn’t skimp on our materials. Everything that we use is 100% American Made and specially designed and woven to be able to be deployed quickly, and worn safely. If you get your wrist caught on something while you’re jumping out of a Blackhawk helicopter, our bracelets are designed to break off so you don’t lose your arm, and our cord is certified mil-spec so that when you use it, it’s not going to fail. We also employ the use of a machine that I designed to be able to weave the bracelets as tightly as possible so that we can fit the maximum amount of cord into the bracelet so that you have as much cord as you can possibly get, in that size bracelet, when you need it.
Most of the other people that are making and selling paracord bracelets on Amazon are not actually using paracord, but a much cheaper material called craft cord that will not hold the 550lbs that our cord will hold when undone. They’re also made in a standard cobra weave so that it takes quite a while to get to the cord should you need it, but it’s less time consuming to weave them that way. I have no idea what their clips are made of but the one that I received in the test buy has gotten stuck when I closed it and we had to saw through it to get it to come apart again. This is how people are getting away with selling them on Amazon for as low as $2.

While we’ve certainly enjoyed the rise in popularity of our product because of the current paracord bracelet fashion fad, our products aren’t made for fashion they’re made for function and Soft shell brings up a good point that all of this info needs to be in the product description and used as an edge against our competition.

I guess it’s just a waiting game now.

Thanks again everybody, all of this advice and constructive criticism is greatly appreciated.


#9

wish there was a way to include a photo of the product I received. Photo speaks a thousands words in showing the differences in the product.


#10

You can upload photos in Attachment in your complaints and also on this message board. On this board you could even embed a photo and display it in your message directly if you use the html code correctly.


#11

Hi - The Brand Registry won’t keep other Sellers from listing on your product. It will help you control the content, but not who lists on your ASIN. The solution may be taking a long time for you, but filing a ticket is the right approach.


#12

Hi

Just wondering, were you able to get this issue resolved? I am facing a similar issue now and would like to know what worked and how long it took to get results.

Thanks


#13

I notice you use the word “copyright” to describe your intellectual property. A design patent may be more appropriate. Design patents protect the look and feel of articles more effectively than copyrights.

Not to blogwhore, but there is series of articles currently on design patents on IP Watchdog. Here is the latest. http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2013/08/23/the-power-of-portfolio-strong-design-patents/id=44774/ It talks about how Apple was able to get a billion dollar award from Samsung for infringement of their iPhone design patents.

The next article will talk about how small to medium sized companies can protect against counterfeiting without breaking the bank.


closed #14