Cease and Desist: Myth vs Reality

As an Amazon seller you need to ready to deal with all sorts of different situations. Today we’re going to spend some time talking about cease and desist communications and best practices to protect yourself and your Amazon account. If you haven’t seen one of these messages before they look something like this:

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Sounds pretty serious right? Based on this communication you’d probably be worried about a few different things:

  • Will my Amazon account get suspended?
  • Can I really be sued for selling this product?
  • Can I continue to sell this product on Amazon?

The first time I received one of these messages I was pretty freaked out. I had over 100 units of the item in question at the Amazon warehouse and it was one of my best money makers. I was only a few months into the Amazon FBA game at that point and losing one of my most profitable products would have meant a big hit to my Amazon business. While I was worried I knew I needed to do a little homework before I determined the best course of action.

First Sale Doctrine


The first thing that I spent some time researching was a principle known as the first sale doctrine. Let me break down the basics for you. In the United States we have copyright laws which are designed to provide copyright owners a number of different rights including the ability to distribute copies of their work. When someones buys an item what happens is the original developer transfers a copy of their work to the purchaser. When this happens the purchaser become the owner of a lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work. The first sale doctrine allows the owner to sell or otherwise dispose of their lawfully made copy without the authority of the copyright owner.

What this means for you as a seller is that when you have purchased an authentic copy of a product from a reputable retailer you have the ability to resell that item.

Amazon Brand Restrictions


Just because you are allowed to resell an item doesn’t necessarily mean you have the ability to resell those items on Amazon. Amazon has placed restrictions on a number of different brands (ie. Aden & Anais, Asics, Bose, New Balance, Mizuno, Sony, Victoria Secret etc.) Unless you are an authorized reseller of these brands you will not be able to sell these products on the Amazon platform. When you try to add these types of products to your inventory you’ll find that your ability to list these types of products is restricted. Getting approval to become an authorized reseller requires you to reach out directly to brand/manufacturer to request approval.

What this means for you as a seller is you cannot sell certain types of products without prior authorization. The easiest way to determine whether you are allowed to sell a particular product is to look the item up using the Amazon Seller App.

Developing a Plan of Action


Ok so now we know that we have the right to resell products. We also know that unless Amazon has restricted the ability to sell certain brands we can sell those products on Amazon. Remember what can and can’t be sold on Amazon is a moving target. Recently Amazon restricted the ability to sell many different Sony and Microsoft products. Prior to this change those same products could be resold on Amazon. Since this is something that can and does happen from time to time I decided the best way to approach to move forward was to follow three simple steps:

  1. Contact Amazon Seller Support: When I receive any type of cease and desist communications the first thing I do is call Amazon Seller Support. I do this because I want to confirm that Amazon hasn’t recently placed any types of restrictions on a particular brand of products. I also have the Amazon rep pull up the communication so they can see exactly what has been communicated and help me to determine if I actually need to comply. To date Amazon has never told me that I need to remove the associated products.
  2. Respond to the Message: Even if Amazon tells you that you don’t need to comply you do need to deal with the incoming message. I like to respond once to the message sender to let them know that I have been in contact with Amazon and to let them know to direct further concerns directly to Amazon. If they send any additional messages to me I mark them as reply not needed.
  3. Report the Individual: Many of these message come from other sellers who are competing with you on a listing. These types of communications are against Amazon policy and you have the option to report suspicious messages to Amazon for further investigation. If you do not report this type of behavior Amazon cannot take action to prevent it from happening again.

Well that’s it now you have the low down and you know what you should be doing when you receive cease and desist communications. Don’t freak out and follow the steps and you will be fine. Make sure to bookmark our blog and stay tuned for tons more great information. Also be sure to check out the FBA Sourcing Simplifiers Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1641071052833095/ for tons more free information.

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