Amazon is dedicated to providing customers with the widest selection of goods on Earth and 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 must consult a lawyer if you have a specific question about your IP rights or the IP rights of others.
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, and have not created the work under the direction of others, then you typically own the copyright in 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.
Refer to the Agency for Cultural Affairs’ website for more information about copyright basics and FAQs.
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 the copyright is exhausted. Copyright exhaustion generally permits the resale of a genuine, lawfully purchased physical item (such as a book or CD) without permission from the copyright owner.
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 protects a trademark by registering it with a country-specific trademark office (such as the Japan Patent Office).
Generally, trademark law protects sellers of goods and services from customer confusion about the source of particular goods or services.A trademark owner might be able to stop others from using a particular mark, or a confusingly similar mark, if using the mark is likely to cause a customer to be confused about whether the product being sold is the trademark owner’s product.
Trademarks are often displayed on Amazon’s product detail pages in the form of product and brand names listed on a product detail page.
The Japan Patent Office offers resources to learn more about trademarks.
Just because you are not the owner of a trademark does not necessarily mean that you cannot sell another company’s product. Usually, the unauthorized use of a trademark in the creation of a product detail page is infringing only if it is likely to cause confusion as to the source of the goods.
Typically, a seller can use someone else’s trademark in the following circumstances:
“Similar to” claims (such as stating that goods are “similar to Kindle” or “equivalent to Find”) may infringe trademark law, depending on the store and circumstances. Seek legal counsel before making such comparisons.
If you want to indicate the compatibility of your product with a product of a different brand in the product title, build your product title as follows, taking also account of Amazon Brand Name Policy. If you do not apply this format to your product title, your listing may be removed as potentially trademark infringing.
Title format for branded compatible products
[Your Product’s Brand Name] + [Product Name] + "for"/”compatible with”/”fits”/”intended for” + [Brand of Main Product] + [Main Product Name] + (other product title elements, if applicable)
Title format for generic compatible products
"Generic" + [Product Name] + "for"/”compatible with”/”fits”/”intended for” + [Brand of Main Product] + [Main Product Name] + (other product title elements, if applicable)
Generic Replacement filter for AmazonBasics Waterfilter A3
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, IF the charging cable is only compatible with AmazonBasics speakers and not also with all other electronic devices (if the cable is compatible with several brands but not all, it is acceptable to use the most important brand in the product title and list the others in the bullet points). Title indicates compatibility without implying that this is an AmazonBasics branded product; Brand field may be blank for generic product.|
|Wireless Speakers with six foot USB charging cable, compatible with AmazonBasics speaker||Wireless Speakers Inc.||Active listing, with correct Brand Field use and acceptable title, IF the charging cable is only compatible with AmazonBasics speakers and not also with all other electronic devices (if the cable is compatible with several brands but not all, it is acceptable to use the most important brand in the product title and list the others in the bullet points).|
If you are not sure, you must 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, in connection with the sale of a product that does not come from the trademark holder.
Counterfeiting requires the use of a registered trademark on the product or packaging.
A look-alike item sold on a separate product 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 rights (such as design rights) or violate other laws (such as the Unfair Competition Law).
A patent is a form of legal protection for inventions. An issued patent grants its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, transferring, offering to transfer, or importing the invention into Japan, for a fixed number of years.
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 Japan Patent Office offers resources to learn more about patents.
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.
A design right is a form of legal protection for industrial designs. An issued design right grants its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, transferring, offering to transfer, or importing the item protected by the design right into Japan, for a fixed number of years.
A design right is different from a trademark in that it protects a novel design of an item (such as a new shape of a chair that is ergonomic) rather than a word or logo used to identify the source of the product (such as the brand name of the product). A design right 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 novel design of an item, such as a new shape of a chair.
The Japan Patent Office offers resources to learn more about design rights.
The manufacturer or distributor of a product might be able to assist you with design right-related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s design right, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.
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 must 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.