Amazon is dedicated to providing customers with the widest selection of goods on Earth and to creating an amazing customer experience. Amazon does not allow listings that violate the intellectual property rights of brands or other rights owners.
This page provides information about intellectual property (IP) rights and common IP concerns that might arise when selling on Amazon. This is not legal advice. You should consult a lawyer if you have a specific question about your IP rights or the IP rights of others.
A copyright protects original works of authorship, such as videos, movies, songs, books, musicals, video games, paintings, technology-based works (such as computer programs), etc. Generally, copyright law is meant to incentivize the creation of original works of authorship for the benefit of the public. To receive copyright protection, a work of authorship must be created by an author, and must have some amount of creativity. If you are the author of an original work, then you typically own the copyright in that work.
Protection usually arises at the moment of creation of a work, without a need for a registration, certification or other formal act.
In some European countries, there are optional registration systems available to creators (e.g. Registro General de la Propiedad Intellectual in Spain; SIAE in Italy), but they only have an evidential or administrative function.
In Europe, each country has its own copyright laws, but all copyright laws prohibit the unauthorized copying and use of original works, as well as the unauthorized import of products from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
A person who authors an original work usually owns the copyright for that work. If you take a photo of your product, you generally have copyright protection in the photo you took, and you can use that photo on your product detail page to sell that product. However, if you find a photo on someone else’s website, you should not upload that photo to a product detail page without the other person’s permission.
Example: The owner of the Pinzon brand took the photos of the sheets shown below and owns the copyright in the images of the sheets. If a seller were to copy these images to sell their product on another product detail page, that seller could be violating the rights owner’s copyright in the images of the sheets.
It is important to make sure that the goods you are selling do not violate a copyright or you could lose your selling privileges and face potential legal consequences.
You might be able to sell someone else’s copyrighted work on Amazon if you have received permission from the copyright owner or if your use is protected by the so-called exhaustion principle. The exhaustion principle generally permits the resale of a genuine, lawfully purchased physical item (such as a book or CD) without permission from the copyright owner. But in Europe, the principle only applies if the concrete product (item) in question was imported or sold previously in the EEA with the copyright owner’s consent, i.e. by the owner or by someone he authorized to sell.
In some EU Member States (e.g. France, Germany, Belgium, Italy) the dual nature of industrial designs as functional and aesthetic creations means they are also protected by copyright. There are different requirements – some countries protect only designs with a high “artistic character” under copyright, in other countries the threshold is low. So be aware that any product design may also be protected by copyright, at least in some EU countries, and therefore may not be copied freely.
Copyright and Design Right protection can coexist.
A trademark is a word, symbol or design, or a combination of same (such as a brand name or logo) that a company uses to identify its goods or services and to distinguish them from other companies’ goods and services. Put another way, a trademark indicates the source of goods or services. Generally, trademark laws exist to prevent customer confusion about the source of goods or services.
A trademark owner usually protects a trademark by registering it with a country-specific trademark office (e.g. DPMA in Germany; UIBM in Italy; INPI in France; OEPM in Spain; UK IPO in the United Kingdom), or with a cross-border office, such as the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the BOIP (for the Benelux region). Trade mark protection is territorial by nature, i.e. the geographic scope of protection for trade marks is limited and depends on the place of registration: national trademarks do not protect the trademark owner at EU level, while EU trade marks give protection in all Member States of the Union.
In some cases and countries (not e.g. in the UK), a person or company might have trademark rights based on only the use of a mark in commerce, even though the mark was never registered. Those rights are known as unregistered trademarks and come into existence only under very limited conditions.
Generally, trademark law protects sellers of goods and services from the misappropriation of their trademarks by unauthorized third parties, in particular where there is potential customer confusion about who provides, endorses, or is affiliated with such particular goods or services.
A trademark owner may stop others from using a particular mark (a) for goods or services which are identical to those for which the owner has registered his mark; (b) for goods or services that are similar to that of the registered mark if it is likely that customers could be confused (even if the mark used is not identical but only similar); or (c) if the owner’s mark has reputation in the EU and where use of that same or a similar mark without due cause takes unfair advantage of, or is detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the owner’s mark.
Trademarks are often displayed on Amazon’s product detail pages in the form of product and brand names listed on a product detail page. For example, the trademark “Pinzon” appears in the brand name or “byline” portion of the product detail page shown below. The “Pinzon” trademark also appears in the product name portion of the product detail page (“Pinzon Flannel Sheet Set – King, Sage”).
Just because you are not the owner of a trademark does not necessarily mean that you cannot sell the rights owner’s product. If the product is genuine, and not a parallel import, you can use the trademark to market that specific product.
Example: If you are selling a genuine Pinzon sheet set and you are advertising the product as a Pinzon sheet set, you are not infringing on the Pinzon trademark.
However, note that the rights owner can prohibit the use of the mark if there exist legitimate reasons to oppose further commercialization of the goods, especially where the condition of the goods is changed or impaired after they have been put on the market.
Most other unauthorized uses of a trademark constitute an infringement; if you are unsure whether your use violates someone else’s trademark, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.
Typically, a seller can use someone else’s trademark in the following circumstances:
It is important to make sure that the goods you are selling, and the content of your listings, do not violate a trademark or you could lose your selling privileges and face potential legal consequences. When you decide to sell goods on Amazon, ask yourself the following questions:
The table below shows examples of correctly and incorrectly branded listings under Amazon listing policy:
|Listing title||Brand||Status of listing|
|AmazonBasics Speaker||(blank)||Inactive listing due to incorrect Brand field. Because the Brand attribute is blank (not “AmazonBasics”), the listing title cannot imply that the product is an AmazonBasics product.|
|AmazonBasics Speaker||AmazonBasics||Active listing, with correct Brand field use and acceptable title.|
|Six foot USB charging cable, compatible with AmazonBasics speaker||(blank)||Active listing, with acceptable title and Brand field use. Title indicates compatibility without implying that this is an AmazonBasics branded product; Brand field may be blank for generic product.|
|Six foot USB charging cable, compatible with AmazonBasics speaker||Wireless Speakers Inc.||Active listing, with correct Brand Field use and acceptable title.|
If you are not sure, you should consult a lawyer.
Counterfeiting is a specific type of trademark infringement. A counterfeit is an unlawful reproduction of a registered trademark—or a mark that is very similar to a registered trademark— on a product or packaging.
A look-alike item sold on a separate product detail page without the improper use of a registered trademark is not a counterfeit, even though the item might look similar or identical to the trademarked product. However, lookalike products may infringe upon other intellectual property design rights, or constitute (in some countries) unfair competition/passing off.
A patent is a form of legal protection for inventions. An issued patent grants its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing the invention into the country which granted patent protection for a fixed number of years.
Not in the EU. Other countries distinguish different patent types, though. For instance, in the United States there are two principal types of patents: Utility patents and Design patents.
A patent is different from a copyright in that it does not protect the expressive content of a creative work like a book or a picture, but protects a specific invention, such as a new method of printing books or a new type of camera.
The manufacturer or authorized distributor of a product might be able to assist you with patent-related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s patent, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.
An industrial design is a form of legal protection for an original ornamental plastic form of an object or set of lines and colors that may be applied to a product. An industrial design protects the appearance of a product and is intrinsically linked to a product.
The manufacturer or distributor of a product might be able to assist you with design-related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s design, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.
Intellectual property rights owners (in particular trademark owners, copyright holders and their licensees) may prohibit you from importing or selling their goods in the European Economic Area (EEA), if you sourced them outside the EEA.
This prohibition applies even if the rights owner distributes the same product type in the EEA or does not distribute in the EEA, as long as he holds an intellectual property right in the EEA. Therefore, if you intend to list e.g. branded products or media items on Amazon’s EU marketplaces which you source outside the EEA, seek expert legal advice and make sure the rights owner does not object to such parallel import. Otherwise, Amazon may be asked by the rights owner to take down your listings on Amazon’s EU marketplaces for IP infringement.
Parallel import of goods sourced outside the EEA for sale in the EEA with the rights owner’s consent could still affect customer experience if the non-EEA product differs from the EEA version in any way (e.g., packaging, warranty coverage, product variations). Describe your product appropriately to avoid negative customer feedback.
Make sure only to sell products on Amazon’s EU marketplaces which you have either imported yourself with the rights owner’s consent, or which you have sourced – directly or indirectly – from a supplier who has been authorized by the rights owner to import the products into the EEA (e.g. a subsidiary of the rights owner or an authorized EEA distributor). Note that if the rights owner challenges your sales of non-EEA products, you will have to prove that these were imported into the EEA with the rights owner’s consent. So make sure to keep the invoices, authorization letters etc. for these products.
A utility model is another form of legal protection for inventions, but for so-called “minor inventions.” The registration system is similar to the patent system. Not all EU member states have utility models, but Spain, Italy, France, and Germany have this type of IP right.
In its basic definition, a utility model is very similar to a patent, except that the requirements for acquiring a utility model are less stringent than for patents (quicker registration without the examination of novelty, inventive steps and industrial applicability).
The manufacturer or authorized distributor of a product might be able to assist you with utility model-related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s utility model, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.
Refer to the European IPR Helpdesk for more information about utility models.
A design is a form of legal protection for the appearance of the entire product or a part of it which results, in particular, from the characteristics of line, contours, colors, form, surface structure and/or materials of the product and/or its decoration. Any industrial or handicraft item including packaging, graphic symbols and typefaces qualify as a product. Parts of products that can be taken apart and reassembled can also be protected.
Design is territorial: a design owner usually protects a design by registering it with a country-specific office (e.g. DPMA in Germany; UIBM in Italy; OEPM in Spain); UK IPO in the United Kingdom) or with a cross-border office, such as the European Union Intellectual Property Office (obtaining a registered Community design).
According to European law, a design can be registered, but unregistered designs are also protected to some extent. Unregistered design rights are acquired automatically and with no need for formalities. The unregistered design right is more limited in scope as well as duration (3 years) than the registered design right.
The manufacturer or authorized distributor of a product might be able to assist you with design related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s design, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon. Refer to the EUIPO website (or for UK, the UK IPO website) to find out more about designs.
If you receive a warning for infringement, you will have several options to appeal or dispute the claim:
If you have received multiple warnings of intellectual property infringement and you believe you are selling authentic products, appeal via your Seller Central account with the following information:
A list of the allegedly infringing ASINs and at least one of the following:
If your account has been suspended as a result of rights owners submitting notices of intellectual property infringement against your products or content, you can provide us with a viable Plan of Action that includes the following information:
You should send your Plan of Action via your account dashboard or reply to the account suspension notification that you received. We will evaluate your Plan of Action and determine if your account may be reinstated. Note that Amazon terminates the accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances.
Sellers are expected to follow the law and Amazon’s policies. Amazon takes claims of intellectual property infringement seriously. Even if a seller is infringing on someone’s intellectual property without knowledge, we will still take action and the seller’s account might receive a warning or be suspended. You should consult an attorney for help to ensure that your business has the right procedures in place to prevent IP infringement.
Parallel import is an EU-specific type of IP infringement, see above. If your products have been imported into the EEA with the rights owner’s consent, we strongly encourage you to reach out to the rights owner to address the complaint directly and obtain a retraction. Only if the rights owner is unresponsive, you may appeal to us, by providing us with evidence that the specific products you sold were imported into the EEA with the rights owner’s permission. Invoices showing that you sourced from an authorized distributor of the rights owner may be one type of such evidence.