This is a common question we often get asked by clients: “How do I remove a 3rd Party Seller from Amazon that is listing my brand/product below MSRP or is selling counterfeit product under my brand name?” Unfortunately, the short answer is, you cannot remove them. If the seller does not remove their listings voluntarily, only Amazon can choose to remove a 3rd party seller if they violate their Terms of Service.
However, there are steps you can take to protect your brand’s content and quality, pricing, and minimize the impact of unauthorized sellers on Amazon.
Best Practices to Utilize as Brand Owner/Manufacturer*
1. Have a clean distribution channel and enforce policies to protect it
Maintain a list of authorized sellers (who are not contractually allowed to resell to others without your written permission). You can also utilize a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy. This is a policy that states the lowest price that can be publicly displayed for a product on sale. If authorized sellers violate your policies, you can choose to no longer do business with them.
If you need further assistance regarding in depth monitoring and enforcement of MAP on Amazon, there are companies that provide this service such as, TrackStreet.
2. Enroll in Amazon Brand Registry
Amazon Brand Registry helps you protect your intellectual property and create an accurate and trusted experience for customers on Amazon. Once enrolled, you will gain a greater influence and more control over your brand’s listings on Amazon, powerful search tools, and automated proactive brand protection. Search for content using images, keywords, or a list of ASINs in bulk and report suspected violations (i.e. IP Infringement cases**) through a simple, guided workflow.
- Brands must have a registered trademark.
- Brand Registry applications must be submitted by trademark owners.
- Enroll your brands by providing a list of product categories (e.g., apparel, sporting goods, electronics) in which your brand should be listed and a list of countries where your brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
3. Enroll in Amazon Transparency (use if marketplace is flooded with counterfeit inventory)
Amazon Transparency is a product serialization service that helps identify individual units and proactively prevent counterfeits from reaching customers. It is authenticity sticker/QR code that customer can use both on and off Amazon to verify that the unit they are buying is authentic.
After a brand starts applying unique Transparency codes for a product, Amazon will begin to look for and scan these codes within its FCs to ensure that only authentic products are shipped out to customers. Units that fail Transparency authentication checks are investigated for potential counterfeits. Suspected counterfeits will be handled as per Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting policies.
- The ability to verify yourself as the brand owner for your products (e.g. Trademark Registration, etc.)
- A Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), such as a UPC or EAN barcode on your products
- The ability to apply unique Transparency codes on every unit you manufacture
4. Sign up for Amazon Project Zero
Project Zero utilizes Amazon’s machine learning which continuously scans their stores and proactively removes suspected counterfeits. Brands must provide key data points (i.e.: Trademarks, logos, etc.). Brands no longer need to contact Amazon to remove counterfeit listings from their stores (which is the Brand Registry IP Infringement process above). Instead, they have the unprecedented ability to do so themselves using Amazon’s self-service tool. They can also use this data to strengthen their automated protections to better catch potential counterfeit listings proactively in the future.
- Your brand must be enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry program with a government-registered trademark.
- Have submitted reports of potential infringements with an acceptance rate of at least 90% in the last six months.
5. Cease & Desist Letter for IP Infringement***
This is a document sent to an individual or business to stop purportedly illegal activity and not to restart it. The letter may warn that if the recipient does not discontinue specified conduct, or take certain actions, by deadlines set in the letter, that party may be sued. While it does not have a legal effect in and of itself, it is often a good way to begin the process of stopping someone from engaging in an activity that is harming you in some way.
Before sending a cease and desist letter, please retain the advice of legal counsel on the letter to make sure it meets the legal requirements for further recourse if needed. There are law firms that specialize in IP Infringement such as Vorys Law Firm.
Read this related article about new seller profile data available on Amazon.
*Please note that above is intended for brand owners/manufacturers only, distributors/non-brand owners cannot control other authorized sellers.
**IP Infringement cases require a “test–buy” of suspected counterfeit products to submit proof to Amazon that the products are not authentic. Amazon makes final determination if listing/product should be removed.
***Per Amazon Terms of Service, sellers are no longer allowed to send cease and desist letters through Seller Central/Amazon portals.