The growth of online ecommerce has resulted in a significant increase in intellectual property disputes between brands and sellers on online platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba. Many big brands bring lawsuits against ecommerce sellers for trademark and copyright infringement. As a majority of these sellers are located outside of the United States, many may not be fully aware of how our intellectual property laws work.
Trademark Infringement on Amazon, eBay and Alibaba
Amazon sellers may be asking themselves, what is a trademark? A trademark is a form of intellectual property which consists of a sign, design, symbol or words that are associated with or identify a specific item, service or brand. Trademarks are most often used for the names of products or businesses. However, trademarks can also include domain names and, in certain cases, the specific way a store or storefront is designed. The most common issues leading to claims for trademark infringement occur when an eBay or Alibaba seller is making counterfeit versions of a brand’s product using a registered trademark without authorization.
Copyright Infringement on Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba
In addition to trademark infringement claims, many of the lawsuits brought by big brands also bring claims for copyright infringement. A copyright is the protection of an original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible medium. In other words, it is a work of art that you can physically hold. Both trademark and copyright infringement claims are frequently asserted against eBay and Alibaba sellers.
Temporary Restraining Orders on Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba
Unfortunately, Amazon, eBay and Alibaba sellers are often caught off guard as they are first informed about a lawsuit by way of a temporary restraining order. Worse, along with this notice is the statement that your Paypal or account funds are being withheld. This can be extremely stressful for sellers.
Brands typically obtain a temporary restraining order by visiting a judge and asserting that the brand will suffer irreparable injury, loss, or damage if the court does not order the freeze of the sellers’ financial assets. They must also provide a reason as to why a formal notice should not be required. Often, the defendants named in these lawsuits are not located in the United States. Brands fear that a formal notice will cause these international sellers to destroy or remove assets subject to the ongoing litigation. As a result, brands are often successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order.
Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba sellers should be aware that there is a time limitation in which you must respond to the lawsuit. It is extremely important to timely respond to the court or the seller may receive a judgment issued by a United States Federal Court. If you are an Amazon, eBay or Alibaba seller and have received notice of a temporary restraining order, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible given the time sensitive nature in responding to the lawsuit. My firm assists clients in resolving these lawsuits as quickly as possible to get their funds released and their business back up and running. Do not hesitate to contact our firm should you have any questions or concerns regarding the temporary restraining order received on Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.