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 should 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 incentivise 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, you typically own the copyright in that work.
The Copyright Act, 1947 ("Copyright Act") is the law that governs copyright materials in India. The Copyright Act applies to copyrights only, and not to trademarks or patents.
A person who authors an original work usually owns the copyright for that work based on certain conditionalities. If you take a photo of your product, you generally have copyright protection in the photo that 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 copyrights owner’s rights in the images of the sheets.
Refer to the Copyright Office, Government of India’s website at http://copyright.gov.in/frmFAQ.aspx for copyright FAQs.
It is important to make sure that the goods which you are selling do not violate a copyright, or you could lose your selling privileges and face potential legal consequences.
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. To put it 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 (such as the Office of the Registrar of Trade Marks). In some cases, 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 with a country-specific trademark office. Those rights are known as “common law” trademark rights and can be more limited.
Generally, trademark law protects sellers of goods and services from customer confusion about who provides, endorses, or is affiliated with particular goods or services. A trademark owner might be able to stop others from using a particular mark, or a deceptively similar mark, if using the mark is likely to cause a customer to be deceived or confused about whether the product being sold is the trademark owner’s product.
Trademarks are often displayed on Amazon’s product detail page 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”).
The Office of the Registrar of Trade Marks offers resources to learn more about trademarks, available at http://www.ipindia.nic.in/faq-tm.htm.
Just because you are not the owner of a trademark, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot sell another company’s product. Usually, the unauthorised 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, endorsement, or affiliation of the goods.
Example: If you are selling a genuine Pinzon sheet set and you are advertising the product as a Pinzon sheet set, you might not be causing confusion as to the source or affiliation of the goods (in other words, Pinzon) and, if not, you are not infringing on the Pinzon trademark.
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 marketplace 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 which 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 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, in connection with the sale of a product that does not come from the trademark holder.
Counterfeiting requires the use of a trademark on the product or packaging.
A look-alike item sold on a separate product detail page without the improper use of a trademark is not a counterfeit, even though the item might look similar or identical to the trademarked product.
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 India for a fixed number of years.
Patents may be granted for a new machine, articles of manufacture, composition of matter, process, or improvement to any of those, and generally protect the structure and functions of a product rather than how it looks.
A patent is different from a trademark in that it protects an invention (such as a new machine or idea) rather than a word or logo that is used to identify the source of the product (such as the brand name of the product). 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 Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks office offers resources to learn more about patents at http://www.ipindia.nic.in/writereaddata/Portal/Images/pdf/Final_FREQUENTLY_ASKED_QUESTIONS_-PATENT.pdf.
The manufacturer or authorised 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 colours 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.
In India, designs are regulated or protected under the Designs Act, 2000 ("Design Act"). A design is the features of shape, configuration, pattern, ornament, or composition of lines or colours applied to any article whether two dimensional or three dimensional or in both, by any industrial process or means, whether manual, mechanical or chemical, separate or combined, which in the finished article appeals to and is judged solely by the eye.
It is important to make sure that the products which you are selling on Amazon, do not violate a registered design. For example, you should not imitate a registered design, except with the licence or written consent of the registered proprietor.
To meet the criteria of a valid design and be registered under the Design Act, a design must be (i) new or original; (ii) undisclosed to the public anywhere in India or in any other country by publication in any tangible form or not in use in any other way; (iii) significantly distinguishable from known designs or combination of known designs; and (iv) not contain obscene or scandalous matter.
When a design is registered, the registered proprietor of the design shall, subject to the provisions of the Design Act, have copyright in the design for 10 years from the date of registration.
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 that 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: 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.