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This article applies to selling in: United States

Amazon Intellectual Property Policy

Important: If you supply products for sale on Amazon, you must comply with all federal, state, and local laws and Amazon policies applicable to those products and product listings.

Amazon is dedicated to providing customers with the widest selection of goods on Earth and to creating an amazing customer experience. Amazon does not allow listings that violate the intellectual property rights of brands or other rights owners.

This page provides information about intellectual property (IP) rights and common IP concerns that might arise when selling on Amazon. This is not legal advice. You should consult a lawyer if you have a specific question about your IP rights or the IP rights of others.

Copyright


  1. What is a copyright?

    A copyright protects original works of authorship, such as videos, movies, songs, books, musicals, video games, paintings, etc. Generally, copyright law is meant to incentivize the creation of original works of authorship for the benefit of the public. To receive copyright protection, a work of authorship must be created by an author, and must have some amount of creativity. If you are the author of an original work, then you typically own the copyright in that work.

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States law that governs online copyrighted materials. The DMCA applies to copyrights only and not to trademarks or patents.

  2. How do I know if I own the copyright for one or more of the images I am using on the detail page?

    A person who authors an original work usually owns the copyright for that work. If you take a photo of your product, you generally have copyright protection in the photo you took, and you can use that photo on your product detail page to sell that product. However, if you find a photo on someone else’s website, you should not upload that photo to a product detail page without the other person’s permission.

    Example: The owner of the Pinzon brand took the photos of the sheets shown below and owns the copyright in the images of the sheets. If a seller were to copy these images to sell their product on another product detail page, that seller could be violating the rights owner’s copyright in the images of the sheets.


    Note: When you add your copyrighted image to a product detail page, you grant Amazon and its affiliates a license to use the material. Other sellers can list their items for sale on pages to which you have added your copyrighted images, even if you no longer sell that product. To ensure that you are not violating someone’s copyrights, make sure to upload only images or text that you have created yourself or for which you have the copyright holder’s permission to upload.

    Refer to the United States Copyright Office’s website for more information about copyright basics and FAQs.

  3. How do I know if I own the copyright for the product I am selling?

    It is important to make sure that the goods you are selling do not violate a copyright or you could lose your selling privileges and face potential legal consequences.

    You might be able to sell someone else’s copyrighted work on Amazon if you have received permission from the copyright owner or if your use is protected by the “first sale” doctrine. The first sale doctrine generally permits the resale of a genuine, lawfully purchased physical item (such as a book or CD) without permission from the copyright owner.

    Example: If you decide to sell a used copy of someone else’s book on Amazon, you are selling someone else’s copyrighted work. You are usually allowed to sell your particular copy of the book without further permission from the copyright owner because the first sale doctrine protects the resale of genuine, lawfully purchased items.

Trademark


  1. What is a trademark?

    A trademark is a word, symbol or design, or a combination of same (such as a brand name or logo) that a company uses to identify its goods or services and to distinguish them from other companies’ goods and services. Put another way, a trademark indicates the source of goods or services. Generally, trademark laws exist to prevent customer confusionabout the source of goods or services.

    Example: “Amazon” is a trademark we use for many of our goods and services. Other Amazon trademarks contain both pictures and words, such as the “Available at Amazon” trademark.


    A trademark owner usually protects a trademark by registering it with a country-specific trademark office (such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office). In some cases, a person or company might have trademark rights based on only the use of a mark in commerce, even though the mark was never registered with a country-specific trademark office. Those rights are known as “common law” trademark rights and can be more limited.

  2. What do trademarks protect?

    Generally, trademark law protects sellers of goods and services from customer confusion about who provides, endorses, or is affiliated with particular goods or services. A trademark owner might be able to stop others from using a particular mark, or a confusingly similar mark, if using the mark is likely to cause a customer to be confused about whether the product being sold is the trademark owner’s product.

  3. What types of trademarks are displayed on Amazon?

    Trademarks are often displayed on Amazon’s product detail pages in the form of product and brand names listed on a product detail page. For example, the trademark “Pinzon” appears in the brand name or “byline” portion of the product detail page shown below. The “Pinzon” trademark also appears in the product name portion of the product detail page (“Pinzon Flannel Sheet Set – King, Sage”).


    The United States Patent and Trademark Office offers resources to learn more about trademarks.

  4. Do I always need the rights owner’s permission to use a trademark in the creation of a detail page?

    Just because you are not the owner of a trademark does not necessarily mean that you cannot sell another company’s product. Usually, the unauthorized use of a trademark in the creation of a detail page is infringing only if it is likely to cause confusion as to the source, endorsement, or affiliation of the goods.

    Example: If you are selling a genuine Pinzon sheet set and you are advertising the product as a Pinzon sheet set, you might not be causing confusion as to the source or affiliation of the goods (i.e., Pinzon) and, if not, are not infringing on the Pinzon trademark.

  5. As a seller, when can I use someone else’s trademark in the creation of a detail page?

    Typically, a seller can use someone else’s trademark in the following circumstances:

    1. When selling authentic goods, a seller may use a trademarked name to list those goods. For example, a seller who lists an authentic “Pinzon” product is not necessarily infringing on the owner of the Pinzon trademark because the seller is using the trademark to identify an authentic product.
    2. When using a trademarked word in its ordinary dictionary meaning.
    3. When making truthful statements that a product is compatible with a trademarked product. For example, if a seller offers a specialty cable that is compatible with the Kindle E-reader, and states that the cable is “compatible with Kindle,” this generally is not trademark infringement as long as the statement is true and not confusing. Note, however, that “similar to” claims (such as stating that goods are “similar to Kindle” or “better than Kindle”) are against Amazon listing policy.

  6. How can I make sure that I am not violating trademark law when selling on Amazon?

    It is important to make sure that the goods you are selling, and the content of your listings, do not violate a trademark or you could lose your selling privileges and face potential legal consequences. When you decide to sell goods on Amazon, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Are the goods I am selling from a reputable distributor?
    2. How did I acquire these goods, and will I be able to prove they are authentic if the question arises?
    3. Will the way I am describing these goods cause customer confusion (for example, would something about your detail page for the generic sheet set cause customers to believe they are purchasing a Pinzon sheet set)?
    4. Did I use a brand name or trademark in a non-confusing and truthful manner to describe compatibility (generally allowed) instead of similarity (not allowed)?

    The table below shows examples of correctly and incorrectly branded listings under Amazon listing policy:

    Listing title Brand Status of listing
    AmazonBasics Speaker (blank) Inactive listing due to incorrect Brand field. Because the Brand attribute is blank (not “AmazonBasics”), the listing title cannot imply that the product is an AmazonBasics product.
    AmazonBasics Speaker AmazonBasics Active listing, with correct Brand field use and acceptable title.
    Six foot USB charging cable, compatible with AmazonBasics speaker (blank) Active listing, with acceptable title and Brand field use. Title indicates compatibility without implying that this is an AmazonBasics branded product; Brand field may be blank for generic product.
    Six foot USB charging cable, compatible with AmazonBasics speaker Wireless Speakers Inc. Active listing, with correct Brand Field use and acceptable title.

    If you are not sure, you should consult a lawyer,

  7. What is counterfeiting?

    Counterfeiting is a specific type of trademark infringement. A counterfeit is an unlawful total or partial reproduction of a registered trademark—or a mark that is very similar to a registered trademark—in connection with the sale of a product that does not come from the trademark holder.

    Counterfeiting requires the use of a registered trademark on the product or packaging. A look-alike item sold on a separate product detail page without the improper use of a registered trademark is not a counterfeit, even though the item might look similar or identical to the trademarked product.

Patent


  1. What is a patent?

    A patent is a form of legal protection for inventions. An issued patent grants its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing the invention into the United States for a fixed number of years.

  2. Are there different types of patents?

    There are two principal types of patents in the United States: Utility patents and Design patents.

    Utility patents, the most common kind of patent, may be granted for a new machine, articles of manufacture, composition of matter, process, or improvement to any of those, and generally protect the structure and functions of a product rather than how it looks.

    Design patents, on the other hand, may be granted for the unique look of a product, but do not cover the structure or functions of a product.

  3. What is the difference between a patent, trademark, and a copyright?

    A patent is different from a trademark in that it protects an invention (such as a new machine) rather than a word or logo used to identify the source of the product (such as the brand name of the product). A patent is different from a copyright in that it does not protect the expressive content of a creative work like a book or a picture, but protects a specific invention, such as a new method of printing books or a new type of camera.

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office offers resources to learn more about patents.

  4. How can I make sure that I do not violate someone’s patent when selling on Amazon?

    The manufacturer or distributor of a product might be able to assist you with patent-related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s patent, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.

What to do if your account receives a warning or suspension


  1. What happens when I receive a warning that my listing is being removed due to a report of intellectual property rights infringement? What if I own the rights to the intellectual property?

    If you receive a warning for infringement, you will have several options to appeal or dispute the claim:

    1. If you receive a warning for a product you never sold on Amazon, reply to the notification you received and let us know that you have never sold the reported product. We will investigate to determine if an error occurred.
    2. If you have an established relationship with the rights owner who submitted the complaint (license, manufacturing or distribution agreement, etc.), we encourage you to reach out to the rights owner and request that the complaint be retracted. If we receive a retraction from the rights owner, your content may be reinstated. The rights owner’s contact information is provided in the warning you received.
    3. Trademark Response: If you believe that a rights owner, or Amazon, made an error when removing your product listing for counterfeiting or trademark infringement, reply to the notification you received and provide specific reasons as to why you believe a mistake was made. Provide any invoice or Order ID that demonstrates the authenticity of the product. We will then re-evaluate the notice and your content may be reinstated.
    4. Patent Response: If you believe that a rights owner, or Amazon, made an error when removing your product listing for patent infringement, reply to the notification you received and provide specific reasons as to why you believe a mistake was made.
    5. Copyright Response: If you received a warning for copyright infringement and you believe it is in error, you may file a counter-notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Send your counter-notice to the email provided in your copyright warning. A valid counter-notice requires the following information:
      1. Your physical or electronic signature. You can sign electronically by typing your name with an indication that it is intended to be a signature: “/s/ Seller Name.”
      2. Identification of the material that has been removed or to which access has been disabled, and the specific location where the material appeared before it was removed or access was disabled. An ASIN is generally sufficient.
      3. A statement under penalty of perjury that you have a good-faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of error or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.
      4. Your name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the judicial district in which your seller address is located; or, if you are located outside the United States, to the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notification of alleged copyright infringement or an agent of such person.

  2. What do I do if I have received multiple warnings of intellectual property infringement?

    If you have received multiple warnings of intellectual property infringement and you believe you are selling authentic products, appeal via your Seller Central account with the following information:

    A list of the allegedly infringing ASINs and at least one of the following:

    1. Invoices proving the authenticity of your products; OR
    2. Order IDs demonstrating product authenticity; OR
    3. An authorization letter from the rights owner (that is not a forwarded email).

  3. What do I do if my account has been suspended?

    If your account has been suspended as a result of rights owners submitting notices of intellectual property infringement against your products or content, you can provide us with a viable Plan of Action that includes the following information:

    1. The reason(s) you were selling allegedly infringing products and/or uploaded allegedly infringing content.
    2. The steps you have taken to ensure that you are no longer infringing.
    3. How you will avoid infringement in the future.
    4. Any other pertinent information.

    You should send your Plan of Action via your account dashboard or reply to the account suspension notification that you received. We will evaluate your Plan of Action and determine if your account may be reinstated. Note that Amazon terminates the accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances.

  4. What if I didn’t know I was violating someone’s intellectual property?

    Sellers are expected to follow the law and Amazon’s policies. Amazon takes claims of intellectual property infringement seriously. Even if a seller is infringing on someone’s intellectual property without knowledge, we will still take action and the seller’s account might receive a warning or be suspended. You should consult an attorney for help to ensure that your business has the right procedures in place to prevent IP infringement.

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