How To Reduce Your Probability Of An IP Infringement Claim
I have been a seller on Amazon for about ten months now. Since it’s not one of those get rich quick schemes that many people think it is, you learn a ton of valuable information along the way. Like selling a product that has a design patent go live during your selling period.
So I started selling this product back in September of 2017. The launch went well, I sold out of my initial inventory within two weeks and found myself placing a larger order with my supplier in China. Mind you this was my first Q4 experience selling on Amazon.
Fast forward through Q4, my sales were good. I made it on the first page for some of my keywords, and things were looking okay.
During January and February, I contemplated placing another order for Easter rush. My product audience was to parents with children ages 5-14, so I projected some sales a couple of weeks before Easter. Kids love getting little gifts in their Easter baskets.
My decision to not order more inventory saved me a great deal of money, and headache.
Here’s where just letting your product sit on Amazon without checking in every couple months could hurt you.
During the period of me selling this product, a company had a pending design patent application. Due to my limited knowledge and just starting off selling on Amazon, I didn’t quite know about this and the research that needed to be done upfront to eliminate this issue.
Receiving that dreaded email from Amazon saying you have infringed on a companies design patent was quite nerve-racking. I didn’t know what to expect.
I started posting in my Amazon Seller Facebook groups and asking sellers who have gone through this on some advice.
“Contact the patent owner and see if they will work with you on a resolution.”
“It could be a fake, do your research on the patent.”
So I headed over to the USPTO website to check the design patent number. Sure enough, it was legit and just went live a couple of days before the email. I reviewed the patent documentation and drawings, and it was what I was selling.
I proceeded to remove my remaining inventory from Amazon. Luckily for me I only had 181 units remaining, and Amazon was offering free inventory removal.
My IP claim is still showing on my seller account, but I’m hoping after 30 days and deleting my listing, the complaint will disappear.
The lesson here is to do a thorough check on patents, trademarks, and pending applications before you choose a product to sell. If you find something this is similar or have any doubt in your mind that it’s similar to what you are going to sell, move on.
Once you launch a product and have been successfully selling it for some time, it’s always good and doesn’t hurt to do a review of those patent and trademark websites. People and companies are filing for these all the time.
Stay on top of your game, or it’ll end up biting you in the ass!