Amazon brings a lot of – often generic – private label products to a massive global audience. In doing so, it also opens up opportunities for so called “hijackers” to piggyback on their success.
The problem is so widespread that even huge names like Apple are being affected – recently launching a $2 million dollar lawsuit against Mobile Star LLC after they deceived both Amazon, and Amazon customers, into believing their chargers were genuine.
With the increasing amount of counterfeit goods being imported from Asia, it’s easier than ever for hijackers to sell a knock-off of your product at a discounted price under your ASIN. Selling an often inferior product using your original listing, hijackers can negatively impact your brand image, rankings and sales. A quick search on Amazon’s Seller Forums can reveal the stories of sellers losing up to 70% of their sales in 3 weeks after their listing was piggybacked.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY LISTING IS BEING HIJACKED?
A key part of this is monitoring your listings and looking for signs of hijacking. Whether it be a new seller appearing on your ASIN, an influx of uncharacteristically bad review, a sudden drop in sales or any other significant change – you should be keeping a close eye on your listings. If a new seller appears, you can investigate their legitimacy yourself.
Sellers with the intention of counterfeiting a product may appear on a listing a small amount of stock but indicating that more will be coming soon. The little stock they have was probably bought from the original seller with the intention of copying it in their own factories.
HELP! MY AMAZON LISTING HAS BEEN HIJACKED!
The first thing you should do once you notice a copycat product is ask them politely, but firmly, to take it down. This approach may seem soft, but some sellers in the Amazon forums have found this fairly effective in combatting hijackers.
After a few days, if the sellers hasn’t backed down, you have to take further action. We suggest buying your product from the seller. If you receive a counterfeit item, you can report it to Amazon by filing an A-to-z Guarantee claim here. You can also report the intellectual property rights infringement here. Although to fully tackle the problem, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer to send the seller an official Cease and Desist letter.
There are also preventative actions you can take to decrease the likelihood of your item being targeted.
HOW DO I PREVENT MY LISTING BEING HIJACKED?
The first step you should take is register your brand with Amazon. Amazon recently announced they will expand their Brand Registry program in the US, and will allow manufacturers, Private Label brands, and branded white label products to register their logo and products.
Branding is hands-down the most effective preventative measure. Keep in mind that any factory in China can replicate your product for a fraction of the cost. That is, unless, you feature some defendable intellectual property. Maintaining a clear brand identity can save your listing.
If you’re the original manufacturer, you can also add a warranty to your Amazon listing. As sellers are required to match your listing completely, unauthorised manufacturers won’t be eligible to sell your product.
No serious Amazon seller should avoid trademarking. It’s one of the most effective ways to clamp down on fakes across all channels, and Amazon is not an exception. Even for small sellers, not applying for a trademark immediately might become something they regret at a later date. It takes at least 8 months to gain a trademark, and in online selling a lot can change in that time.
Sellers should stay proactive and keep a close eye on their listings and take the recommended preventative measures above to make their brand more difficult and/or illegal to reproduce.