When A Manufacturer Threatens You
While Miles to Memories is not a reselling blog, I have been doing quite a lot of reselling lately. To be honest, the demise of Bluebird/Serve didn’t have much to do with it as I was already sort of moving in that direction. I also believe it is good to be well rounded in my “hobby skills”. That is why I have dabbled in many forms of manufactured spend including gift card arbitrage and so much more.
So while the majority of the content here still revolves around other topics, from time to time I thought it might be nice to share some of my experiences to help those of you who are just getting into reselling. In that vein, lets talk about mean companies that like to “defend” their intellectual property by threatening Amazon resellers.
A Lot of Companies Don’t Like Resellers
Manufacturers like to keep control of who sells their products. This allows them to keep the price from tanking in the marketplace and it also allows them to make sure products being sold are genuine and new. To be fair there are a lot of knock offs coming from China so I sort of understand this, but some companies take it too far.
Big Habitat has written before about his run ins with Netgear. For awhile they were threatening anyone on Amazon who was selling their products “as new” below MSRP. Their take was that any product being sold so cheap had to be fake, even though we all know that their authorized resellers including Amazon often sell below MSRP. Netgear even went as far as suing some resellers.
Belkin/Linksys Isn’t Messing Around
While I haven’t had any issues with Netgear, another router manufacturer has been sending me nasty grams. Recently I found decent deals on two different Linksys routers. The limit on each deal was one, so I only had a total of two units. Each of these units was obtained from a legitimate source (authorized reseller) and was factory sealed.
Based on my understanding of the law, it is completely legal for me to sell these products on Amazon. I also believe and assert that the use of Belkin’s trademarks (product names and images) is fair use. Of course I am not a lawyer and that is only my own personal opinion in my own situation. To be truthful though it doesn’t matter. Why? Well let’s start with the note they sent me.
It has come to our attention that you are advertising and promoting the sale of Belkin and/or
Linksys products and you appear to be holding yourself out as an Authorized Reseller of Belkin
and/or Linksys products. You are using Belkin’s registered trademarks and displaying
copyrighted images of Belkin’s products in your storefront, all of which trademarks and
copyrights are owned exclusively by Belkin International Inc. (“Belkin”). Belkin’s Partner
Advantage Program allows third parties to become Authorized Resellers of Belkin and/or
Linksys products and provides limited licenses to use certain of Belkin’s trademarks and
copyrights. We have reviewed our records and we have no record that you are an Authorized
Belkin takes its commitment to protecting its consumers, as well as its Authorized Resellers,
very seriously. In our experience, product that is not sold by an Authorized Reseller may be
used (not new), defective, counterfeit and/or not designed for use within the United States.
Accordingly, we ask that you identify to us the source of the Belkin and/or Linksys products you
are advertising and promoting so that we may verify the goods’ authenticity.
If you are an Authorized Reseller, please tell us immediately before we take any further action
against you – you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not an Authorized
Reseller, you must immediately cease and desist from advertising and promoting the sale of any
Belkin and/or Linksys products, and using Belkin’s trademarks and copyrights. We would
welcome and encourage your interest in becoming an Authorized Reseller. You can find
information on our Partner Advantage Program, including how to become an Authorized
Reseller, at http://www.belkin.com/partneradvantage/.
We look forward to your cooperation. Please govern yourself accordingly. We reserve the right
to take such further action, without any further notice to you, as we may deem appropriate to
protect our brands, business, consumers and Authorized Resellers.
Belkin Infringement Team
The first time that letter was sent to me was within minutes of the first router going live on Amazon. I received the same letter a second time with a note saying “Notification #2” within minutes of the other router going live. Not very nice at all.
What to Do?
Well, there doesn’t seem to be much I can do. While I do believe I am legally able to sell the products, Belkin can go to Amazon and complain that I am infringing on their trademarks. (Which is why I believe they use this exact language in the letter.) From what I have learned through research, Amazon is pretty quick to disable seller accounts for such a complaint. In other words, I simply won’t be selling anything from Belkin/Linksys ever again. It really isn’t worth the trouble. Thankfully dropping Belkin/Linksys won’t make a dent in my overall sales.
I am writing this post both as a warning to potential sellers about Belkin and as a warning to those looking to resell about some of the hassles you have to deal with when doing this. Over the years I have learned that backing away from a fight is often the best way to win. In this case I’ll just move on to other opportunities. I have found plenty.
Have you ever had an issue with a product manufaturer threatening you for reselling their product on Amazon or somewhere else? Please share you experience in the comments!