Very British Case Study (suspension case)
Problem:- The account was suspended due to intellectual properly violations ( parallel import policy violation)
to understand how to write an appeal and explain the Root cause, Immediate steps taken and also future plans to avoid the violations from happening again
We help the seller create a detailed POA as below and the account was activated
WE CAN ASSURE YOU WE HAVE NOW AN ADEQUATE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT WENT WRONG, THEREFORE:
— WE HAVE NOW UPDATED OUR BUSINESS MODEL
— WE HAVE DELETED OUR ENTIRE INVENTORY TO RELAUNCH OUR BUSINESS MODEL ACCORDING TO THE NEW LISTING METHOD and NEW SOURCING PROCEDURE including BRAND AUTHORIZATION HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED.
–WE HAVE TRAINED OUR STAFF WITH AMAZON SELLER UNIVERSITY GUIDELINES. THE COURSES PROVIDED BY AMAZON SELLER UNIVERSITY HAVE GIVEN THE WHOLE TEAM A THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING ON HOW TO RUN OUR BUSINESS AND EVER SINCE IMPLEMENTING THE TEACHINGS, WE HAVE SEEN A POSITIVE CHANGE WITHIN OUR PRACTICES. WE LOOK FORWARD TO GETTING REINSTATED IN ORDER TO APPLY OUR TEACHINGS TO PRACTICAL DOINGS.
ROOT CAUSE OF VIOLATIONS
We take full responsibility for the complaints received, which led to the deactivation of our Amazon Seller Account.
REPORTED ASINS: B00PSLJF6Q, B08XWY6ZS2
REPORTED BRANDS: Spares2go, YOWAO
COMPLAINT TYPE (INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY): Counterfeit and Parallel Import
ROOT CAUSE OF PARALLEL IMPORT ISSUES: We source products from what we believe was a licensed supplier who was selling GENERIC ITEMS. This issue happened as we were not aware that we needed rights to sell certain products in the UK. Our Amazon Store could not be verified as an authorized seller of the reported brand (ZAVIA) products, which had led to complaints from the right owners. The Intellectual property rights owners prohibit us from importing or selling their goods in the UK unless you, your supplier or an upstream supplier have the rights owner’s consent to sell the items in the EEA or UK (i.e., the products are “exhausted” in the EEA or the UK).
THE ROOT CAUSE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY COMPLAINTS: We thought that by merging into existing listings, we would be able to sell quickly and profitably. There was no need for approval connected to Intellectual Property. When using the ‘Add a product’ and ‘Sell yours’ tools to add our offer to these existing listings. Unfortunately, we did not train our staff to understand the attribute ‘brand’, and they ended up listing items without any inspections.
ROOT CAUSE OF COUNTERFEIT ISSUES: To avoid counterfeit problems, we should have implemented a listing inspection station and supervised the listing process. We acknowledge that we could not identify ourselves as an AUTHORIZED re-seller of the REPORTED ASINS it has led rights owners to believe that we sold an item without their permission, leading them to believe COUNTERFEIT products were sold. It was our assumption that we could list merchandise without a LOA.
- We planned to source items from manufacturers themselves, but instead of purchasing stock and acquiring a Letter of authorization before listing the product, we decided to Dropship these items once we received orders for them.
- Furthermore, our sourcing procedure did not include checks related to supply chain verification, Product authenticity verification and acquiring a Brand Authorization letter prior to listing products on Amazon. Therefore, Amazon could also not verify our store as an authorized seller of the reported brands, which led them to believe that a COUNTERFEIT item was listed.
ROOT CAUSE OF COMPLAINTS RELATED TO COUNTERFEIT ITEMS: Our team was not adequately trained to follow all checks to ensure that we only sell & fulfill only authentic items. As we did not have the correct understanding of the authenticity checks which must be conducted, we ended up sourcing items from an unreliable source for which we are completely responsible.
- It was our assumption that we could list merchandise without an LOA. As we could not identify ourselves as an AUTHORIZED re-seller of the stated BRANDS, it has led rights owners to believe that we sold an item without their permission, leading them to believe COUNTERFEIT products were sold.
- Detail pages appeared to be GENERIC (UNBRANDED), and we assumed we could map on reported ASINs as we are selling similar products. We were unaware that we need approval from brand owners to list those products nor our supplier can provide us those documents, as the products we purchased from them were Generic hence leading to the conclusion that COUNTERFEIT items had been sold
Immediate steps were taken on 29th December:
- ENTIRE INVENTORY IS DELETED to relaunch our business model.
- CEASED sourcing from our current suppliers.
- We are undertaking an entirely new process to ensure none of our latest products infringes on intellectual property.
- The Team has done a complete overhaul of our Account Health and our INVENTORY to ensure that everything aligns with Amazon’s intellectual property policies and guidelines across all marketplaces.
- We also monitor our Account Health Daily (THREE TIMES A DAY) to ensure that the seller account complies with Amazon Policies
- We have NO INTENTIONS TO list the reported items again in the future without official documentation.
FUTURE LISTINGS: We shall create our own listings whereby the product is not currently within the Amazon catalogue, however whereby the EXACT/IDENTICAL product is already listed within the Amazon catalogue we understand Amazon policy advises we will need to list as a contributor to the listing as opposed to creating new listings.
We have reached out to the right owners, and we have apologized for the VIOLATIONS made and confirmed that IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN IN THE FUTURE. We now understand that the brand owners have retracted the complaints.
We immediately reached out to our suppliers and requested LOA for the items for which Amazon ordered additional documents. Unfortunately, our suppliers were unable to provide us with the required documents, which led to the suspension of our account.
WE HAVE IMPLEMENTED THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY COMPLAINTS PREVENTION STATION and Listing Team with an additional three staff where all products will be inspected and reviewed before being listed on my Amazon seller account. From now on, all products, Brands and descriptions will be examined again using the inspection station before they are listed on our inventory to ensure they do not contain ambiguity regarding product intellectual property.
We have adopted a new system when creating new ASINs to ensure that all FUTURE PRODUCT ASINs are correctly approved (by listing inspection stations about Intellectual property (including trademark, patent, copyright & design rights) before LISTING them.
Listing inspection station implemented: We have assigned a listings manager who will approve the listings before going live on Amazon and make sure the listing is not violating any rights of owners, Trademarks, Copyrights, or Intellectual Property of a brand. All products identified under ongoing or potential conflicts of counterfeit; trademark & copyrights have been removed from Amazon. We will ensure that these products are never made live without prior confirmation from rights owners.
THE TEAM MEMBERS HAVE BEEN IMMEDIATELY TRAINED ON HOW TO ENSURE WE DO NOT SELL PARALLEL IMPORT GOODS IN THE FUTURE: Make sure we only sell products on Amazon’s UK marketplace which we have imported into the EEA or UK ourselves, with the rights owner’s consent (including their consent for us to sell in the EEA and UK), or which we have sourced – directly or indirectly – from a supplier who has been authorised by the rights owner to import or sell the products in either the EEA or UK (e.g. an authorised subsidiary of the rights owner or an authorized EEA or a UK distributor).
TRAINING SESSIONS: We hired a senior Manager who has expertise in policies regarding trademarks, patents, and other Intellectual Property rights. He would be conducting monthly and weekly training on the policies that are applicable to our business. He would be responsible for and monitoring the listing of the products as well. The listing process would always require his approval. He would make sure each employee is well acquainted with Amazon’s policies as per AMAZON SELLER UNIVERSITY GUIDELINES. He might give an additional training session to new employees and those who need it. He would report back to the management team about the improvements and assessment of training sessions regularly. In case any employee is found to be reporting the same violation or not performing according to the training provided, he will be liable for his own termination or disciplinary action on an immediate basis. THE COURSES PROVIDED BY AMAZON SELLER UNIVERSITY HAVE GIVEN THE WHOLE TEAM A THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF HOW TO RUN OUR BUSINESS.
- ANTI-COUNTERFEIT https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/201165970
- IPR: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/external/201361070
- Intellectual Property Office – GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office
- Trademarks: https://www.gov.uk/topic/intellectual-property/trade-marks
- Patents: https://www.gov.uk/topic/intellectual-property/patents
- IPO website – Intellectual Property Office – GOV.UK: https://www.ipo.gov.uk/tmtext.htm
- EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) – Home – https://euipo.europa.eu/
- UK Intellectual Property Office | indirect: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/contacts/uk-intellectual-property-office
ACTION PLAN FOR FUTURE
Taking this complaint as a learning lesson, we have mandatory training every month for all staff and managers to recognize the types of products or listings which can trigger Intellectual Property Rights Claims. Along with that, compliance awareness, Amazon policies, and all applicable laws will be a mandatory part of the training, and we have given reference to our staff. We have immediately acquainted ourselves & our Team with Copyright and Intellectual Property (IP) Law – Course attended : https://www.reed.co.uk/courses/copyright-and-intellectual-property-ip-law/266188
A management team has been implemented to maintain the Amazon account and customers. This Team shall keep in touch with any new policies or changes to work following what Amazon requires from sellers and avoid any counterfeit, Parallel Import and intellectual property complaints on our panel in the future.
We hired an experienced manager to oversee products’ shipment, and we will do everything as per Amazon policies. We have notified all personnel working in our Amazon department to refrain from activities that may violate Amazon counterfeit, Parallel Import, and intellectual property policies. The Manager has to monitor our Sourcing Procedures and learn and address the current issues related to intellectual poperty. We have made every effort to resolve them by taking all the necessary steps and procedures in place. We have hired our brand attorneys to ensure we do not have counterfeit issues in the future. Our attorney’s website www.humphreys.co.uk
We had a top management meeting with all our team members to deep dive into our existing procedures and find the issue’s root cause. As a result, below are the changes we have made in our Operating Procedure to ensure that the mistakes we mention are never repeated proactively. We updated our SOP to check with every new brand owner and supplier for any ongoing and potential violation of Counterfeit, Parallel Import, and intellectual property.
BB SPORTS DISTRIBUTORS
Unit 29A Apple Lane, Sowton, Exeter, Devon. UK. EX2 7HA.
Tel. No.: 01392 354790 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY WE CHOSE ‘BB SPORTS DISTRIBUTORS’ AS A FUTURE SUPPLIER: They work directly with brands with licensed products. All items ordered via this supplier have relevant rights’ owners’ documentation available, which we now understand is a requirement to sell on Amazon. As we have decided to sell branded products only, BB SPORTS DISTRIBUTORS is a reliable source for our procurement. Our solicitor checked all the documents provided by the supplier. After getting the documents vetted by our Solicitor, we have appointed the supplier.
HOW DO WE CARRY OUT CHECKS RELATED TO SUPPLIER AND PRODUCT AUTHENTICITY
- We now reach out to the right owners directly, making sure the supplier we are purchasing the products from is authorized by them to do so.
- We now request letters of authorization directly from the right owners asking for permission to sell their products on Amazon.
- We have started consulting an independent solicitor to check and verify documents we receive from suppliers and to make sure we have all needed documents prior to listing items in inventory.
TO AVOID FUTURE VIOLATIONS RELATED TO COUNTERFEIT ITEMS:
- We now have a staff member specializing in Authenticity and Intellectual Property checks to ensure we do not infringe Trademarks. We seek advice from independent solicitors at www.ip-coster.com and when required to ensure we request necessary documentation with the Manufacturers, and they are verified.
- The Manager will conduct a second review of the product, so the listings comply with Product Detail Page guidelines.
- To avoid future violations in relation to PARALLEL IMPORT: In the future, we have no plans to list PRODUCT WITHOUT THE LETTER OF AUTHORISATION. We have immediately educated ourselves with parallel import policies, https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/external/201361070