What you’ll learn
What is a Cease and Desist letter?
Cease and desist letters address copyright, legal infringements, or brand owner intellectual property (IP) issues. It’s a tool to prevent Amazon FBA legal entanglements.
Intellectual property law isn’t something we’ll get into as it’s way above our pay grade but the idea is simple.
Note: We have a guide on how to make passive income on Amazon.
If you or another company (limited liability company or any business type) do any of the following, expect to receive some legal letters in the mail.
- Selling counterfeit goods
- Selling as an unauthorized dealer on Amazon
- Selling branded products that infringe on design, utility patents, trademarks
- Using brand names, logos or copyrighted assets in your listing
Many legal risks are involved; the biggest comes from reselling another brand if you are not an authorized dealer. If you don’t want your Amazon account suspended or banned, take any legal letters you receive seriously. It is extremely difficult to get a seller account reinstated. It is not fun having to write and submit any Plan of Action or appeal letters.
You’ll also come across malicious Amazon sellers who abuse this and will submit an IP infringement letter or cease desis letter to get other sellers off a product they sell.
This is where retail arbitrage and wholesale reselling business model are at risk because many sellers compete for the buy box to sell the same Downy laundry soap or Lego set. Even if you purchased 5 units from Target, if P&G or Lego wants to go after you for selling their products, they have the power to do so.
What to do if you receive a Cease and Desist letter
If you receive a cease and desist letter from an Amazon seller, always take it seriously. Don’t brush it off. It’s as important as filing income tax or self employment tax as it can massively affect your amazon FBA seller business.
Take time to read through the letter and then prepare your response carefully. Get a lawyer if you have to because one bad response could take you towards legal action. Your bank account will thank you later.
- Discuss the letter’s only with an Amazon sellers lawyer. Do not post or ask for advice online because the issuer of the letter can use your post against you.
- Keep a copy of the letter and gather evidence that supports your perspective.
- If the other seller has a strong case against you, you should comply with the letter.
- If you have done nothing wrong and have a stronger case against the Amazon seller or brand that sent you the letter, consult your lawyer to draft up a response to the letter. You may even instruct your lawyer to press charges in your favor.
- If you are being accused of having a fake product, make test purchases, and see if the legal threats are valid.
What if I Ignore a Cease and Desist Letter?
There is no legal repercussion for ignoring a cease and desist letter; however, your silence may give the sender a basis to institute legal action against you if their claims are legally sound, which may result in your listing being deleted from the Amazon marketplace or Amazon may suspend your Amazon seller account.
You can safely ignore the letter if the sender’s claim is baseless or reply with a response where you state your position clearly and highlight your reason and provide evidence for not complying with the letter.
E.g. a malicious sender may be trying to kick you off a listing to sell M&M chocolates. But you know they are making false claims because you have a distribution agreement that your seller account is allowed to sell the chocolates.
In this case, you can ignore it or report it to Amazon as a malicious misuse of legal threat.
Cease and Desist Letter Copyright Infringement
When should you send one?
You are going to send one sooner or later.
If a copycat ripped off your design, brand, trademark, or selling different versions on your listing, then it’s time to issue a letter and send your own legal threat.
Start simple by messaging them through seller central. Many times, this method is all you need.
If the initial attempt fails, report them using Brand Registry and you can also get Amazon involved along with your lawyer. Amazon now displays the seller information.
I have seen black hat sellers use cease and desist letters to scare off their competitors at all costs, especially those new to Amazon, even when they have done nothing wrong.
Therefore, you must know when to send a cease and desist letter. Also, some Amazon sellers want to take control of certain products on the Amazon marketplace, so they turn to cease and desist letters instead of investing in a thorough brand strategy.
How to Write a Cease and Desist Letter Example Docs
The template form on Amazon is a good starting point since you may not know the general language to use if you draft the letter yourself. On the form, you will state that you are the rightful brand owner of the product and describe the authorization action.
Whether you have full or partial ownership of the product, you should specify it in the form. Before completing the form, ensure you know what rights to the product you own, and then describe it clearly in the template form.
Once you submit the form to Amazon, they will reach out to you with more questions, so you need to have a clearly defined plan of action to support your claims. You must build a solid case explaining why and how the unauthorized Amazon seller infringes on your product, brand, copyright or other intellectual property.
Cease and Desist Example Docs
Here are a few cease and desist letter sample documents.
What not to do when drafting legal letters
Avoid these things when drafting legal letters so that it doesn’t backfire:
- Watch your tone: Don’t threaten to take legal action too early. Adopt a soft-handed approach first before threatening to sue the other party.
- Not having a clear reason: Your cease and desist letter should have a clear reason for wanting the other Amazon sellers to comply.
- Don’t make it personal. Stick to the facts.
- Be clear and concise. Don’t write an essay.
Amazon cease and desist letters were designed to help sanitize the marketplace. They are not fun for either party. In most cases, a message through seller central to the other Amazon sellers to stop their illegal activity is enough. You should resort to a cease and desist letter only when it fails. Writing a cease and desist letter doesn’t take much time, but it should be done properly. For all legal matters, consult your lawyer if you aren’t sure.
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