While millions of people from all the corners of the world enjoy shopping on Amazon and thousands of sellers are making a buck out of it, the popular virtual marketplace is not entirely fair and safe as there are unauthorized sellers plaguing it. Brand owners, manufacturers, and authorized resellers are badly hurt as much as customers are as the unauthorized resellers are taking away a significant share of what is supposed to be their earnings.
Unauthorized resellers make unpermitted product listing and the worst can badly damage brand reputations that 1P and 2P sellers worked hard to raise and maintain. As a result, the latter’s sales are affected. The sad thing is, Amazon can only offer Brand Registry and Buy Box advantage to separate the legit sellers to the counterfeit ones. As much as authorized sellers want proper and immediate Amazon unauthorized seller removal, Amazon cannot help.
Who should be subject to Amazon Unauthorized Seller Removal and what is Amazon’s take on the matter?
Amazon categorizes its sellers into three, known as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party sellers. 1st party sellers comprise of brand manufacturers; 2nd party sellers are authorized resellers or distributors; while the 3rd party sellers comprise of unauthorized, counterfeit, or knock-off sellers. So as to which among the three should be subject for amazon unauthorized seller removal, it is the 3rd group.
3rd party sellers either sell counterfeit or knock-off products or distribute products from 1st party and 2nd party sellers without proper authorization or permission. These sellers practically are not authorized to resell. In fact, most of them are never affiliated with the manufacturers of the items they sell, and yet, they continue to do it. More often than not, they sell the items at far lower prices to lure more customers.
Despite Amazon being aware of 3P sellers’ presence in the marketplace, it has never strictly ordered their removal but is combatting or curbing the threats they are bringing by laying out rules and guidelines. However, such measures are still unclear. For instance, when it comes to the product listing, Amazon is still offering the platform to all types of sellers selling the same items. More often than not, unauthorized sellers strike the opportunity by listing against brand pages. Even if they are not instantly counterfeiters, they still tend to manipulate Amazon’s policy to offer the same items at a price lower than the manufacturer’s MAP or Minimum Advertised Price. These sellers, technically, are violating the MAP policies and this proliferates under the radar. Unfortunately, Amazon does not want to be involved in disputes between manufacturers and resellers. Hence, since time immemorial, they have been mostly uncooperative or neglectful of the complaints against unauthorized resellers violating the MAP policies, turning the burn over to the right brand owners and distributors.
The Basics of Unauthorized Reselling Operations
Despite the damage unauthorized resellers cause, not all of them know that what they do is not legal. The unaware ones are easy to convince to have their operations halted since these types easily get ashamed of their doings. Meanwhile, the fraud resellers who really intend to steal and lure customers are far difficult to stop as they already know where and how to get away with it. They share the common tricks to steal customers:
- Using Phony Names. Unauthorized resellers change their display names frequently, taking advantage of technically challenged customers who are not mindful or who do not know how to check the seller’s real ID. Frequently changing display phony names makes them hardly traceable which is useful in case complaints of frauds flood in. This leaves customers without a choice but to complain on Amazon and hate the brand for the mistakes the unauthorized reseller committed.
- Using Phony ASINs. ASIN or Amazon Standard Identification Number is a 10-char identifier Amazon provides to each seller for identification purposes. While the purpose of this is to keep an eye on fraudulent sellers, Amazon still keeps a lenient ASIN registration process. This allows sellers to register as many new ASINs as they can, preventing their unauthorized transactions from getting halted.
- New Seller Account Registration. Unauthorized sellers rebuild their identity from time to time under another phony company or seller name. That said, even if an authorized seller is caught, the latter can still bounce back; all he/she has to do is register a new seller account and set everything up.
- Putting Exaggerated Product Details. Unauthorized sellers make their product listings sound very impressive, exaggerating their content with the intention to make a noise to attract more customers against the authorized sellers. Of course, they use false and misleading information to perform the exaggeration, and again, once the customers find out about it, they will tend to show anger, thereby putting the burden and blame on the legitimate competition.
The unauthorized resellers in Amazon can definitely wreak havoc on the business of manufacturers and authorized distributors. They technically steal profits just the same as counterfeiters by offering the products below the allowed price and consequently obtaining the Buy Box. This has been disrupting the customer base of brand owners and damaging their reputation in the process since the products being sold may also be knock-off or have subpar qualities; because when this happens, customers most likely put the blame on the brand name and not on the seller.
Pushing the Removal of Unauthorized Sellers on Amazon…
To end the unauthorized sellers’ damaging behaviors and illegal money milking, sellers must first be able to determine the violations the former has committed in order to determine which countermeasures should be used to combat it.
Depending on their violations, they can be charged with at least one of the following infringement types:
- Trademark Infringement. This goes down when an unauthorized reseller on Amazon utilizes registered trademarks to sell the products without the trademark owner’s permission.
- Copyright Infringement. This applies in cases where an unauthorized reseller creates a listing of the brand owner’s product and uses the latter’s asset without permission. This can also be charged against resellers who use materials to promote the brand’s product but sell counterfeit or copy items with the purpose of deceiving customers.
In order to strengthen your claim against unauthorized sellers, make sure you are a bearer of complete documentation and papers that prove your ownership and protect your company’s rights. You may consult with a patent attorney to know whether your product is patent qualified or not, to protect it further from counterfeiting.