Amazon is dedicated to providing customers with the widest selection of goods 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.
A copyright protects original works of authorship, such as videos, films, songs, books, musicals, video games, paintings and so on. 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, then you typically own the copyright to that work.
Protection usually arises at the moment of creation of a work, without a need for a registration, certification or other formal act.
The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) is an Australian law governing copyrighted materials. 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. 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 approval.
Example: The owner of the Pinzon brand took the photos of the sheets shown below and owns the copyright to 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 of the copyright owner in the images of the sheets.
It is important to make sure that the goods that you are selling do not violate a copyright, or you could lose your selling privileges and face potential legal consequences.
There are rules around importing physical books for sale in Australia, and you may violate copyright if you do not comply with these. These rules apply even if the book is genuine and lawfully purchased from the overseas copyright owner.
There are a number of exceptions to these rules. For instance, you can import a physical book for sale without the Australian copyright owner's approval if the book was not published in Australia within 30 days of its first publication overseas. There are also other circumstances where the importation of genuine books may be lawful. We recommend you consult a lawyer to determine if any of the exceptions apply to you.
A trademark is a word, symbol, or design or a combination of these (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. In other words, 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 IP Australia). In some cases, a person or company might have trademark rights that are only based on 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 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. 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 Pinstripe 160 Gram Sheet Set — Twin XL Navy Pinstripe").
IP Australia offers resources to learn more about trademarks.
Just because you are not the owner or licensee of a trademark, does not necessarily mean that you cannot sell another company's product. The use of a trademark will be infringing in Australia if the trademark is being used on the same or similar goods to those for which the mark is registered and the goods you are selling are not genuine, or if your use 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, 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, please build your product title as follows, also taking account of the Amazon Brand Name Policy. If you do not apply this format to your product title, your listing may be removed for potentially infringing trademark..
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 that 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.|
|182.88 cm 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 bulleted list). 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 bulleted list).|
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 registered trademark on the product or packaging. A lookalike 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. Although not a counterfeit, lookalike items may still infringe a registered trademark.
IP Australia provides some general resources for intellectual property rights owners regarding steps to prevent the importation of counterfeit goods.
A patent is a form of legal protection for a device, substance, method or process. To gain protection, the invention needs to be new, useful, informative or innovative. An issued patent grants its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell or selling the invention for a fixed number of years. An Australian patent will only give you rights to commercially exploit your invention in Australia, for the term of the patent. You can also obtain patent protection overseas if required.
There are two principal types of patents in Australia: standard patents and innovation patents. IP Australia provides general resources about the different types of patents and the registration processes involved.
A standard patent gives you long-term protection and control over an invention and can last for up to 20 years from the filing date of your application (or up to 25 years for pharmaceutical substances). To claim this patent over your invention, it must be new, involve an inventive step, and be able to be made or used in an industry.
Innovation patents, on the other hand, can be granted if you want protection for an invention with a short market life that might be superseded by newer innovations. These patents last up to eight years and are designed to protect inventions that do not meet the inventive threshold required for standard patents (as this type of patent requires an innovative step rather than an inventive step).
A patent is different from a trademark in that it protects an invention (such as a new machine) rather than a word or logo 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.
IP Australia provides general resources to learn more about patents.
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.
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, colours, form, surface structure and/or materials of the product and or the decoration.
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.
IP Australia provides general resources to learn more about designs and the registration process.
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 holders 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 being aware of it, we will still take action and the seller's account might receive a warning or be suspended. You should consult a lawyer for help to ensure that your business has the right procedures in place to prevent IP infringement.