Reselling? This Manufacturer Threatened Me for Selling Their Products on Amazon!

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reselling belkin infringement
Photo Courtesy of GotCredit

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.

Dear Merchant,

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
Reseller.

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 infringement@belkin.com. 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.

Conclusion

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!

 


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46 COMMENTS

  1. It’s not that uncommon in general, and seems to happen a decent bit in the electronics space. Netgear is another company that is absurdly aggressive in combating resellers. I had to sell 5 routers on ebay in order to avoid the netgear police.

    Side note- I was curious if they were serious when they threatened suing me or just bluffing to get me to take down my listings. A quick search online showed dozens of lawsuits they had filed against merchants selling their products as “new” without being authorized retailers. Regardless of the merits of the case, it’s probably not worth our time and expenses fighting in court.

  2. I do a lot of reselling also and I consider this action by Belkin an infringing on my right to sell product that legally is NEW that I purchased Legally! And it is completely unfair to the small business person. So if I don’t agree to their extortion fees then they can sue me. One of these days all the little guys are going to rise up together… Um… Yeah, we just need a leader and a lawyer.

    They make me so mag and I get all worked up. Sorry. Recently ripped off by wells Fargo not honoring my 5s for 6 mos

    Julie

      • Wells Fargo, had to go through the points department. They owned investigation to find out why the 5x didn’t post. It took over 2 months then they determined the 5x wasnt being offered when I applied. Yet I applied from an offering that said 5x and I printed the web page that I applied from. And it’s dated at the bottom edge. I explained that I wouldn’t have applied otherwise. I really got into it with them. They have been trying to get me to take this credit card for years, my mortgage is with them for 15 years now. So pretty much it was a waste, well I did get 18 mos no interest, so there’s that but still.

          • I had the same issue with Wells Fargo and it turned out to be tied to their terms that excluded me because I previously held the Propel card. I think it was that you can’t have had any card ever to be eligible.
            Anyway, I emailed michael.armstrong@wellsfargo.com, the Director of Customer Service, and a very nice lady in the office of the president (or something like that) reached out and was able to apply the 5% promo anyway.

          • I had heard about the promo not begging valid if I had held the card before, but I never had. I think they investigating so long because they kept hoping. Because of the denial of 5x I only used at grocery twice, otherwise I would have used my entire credit line there!

  3. Seems like a Belkin issue, not a reseller issue. If they don’t like people exercising their rights to sell something they legally buy, then they (Belkin) should take it up with Amazon. There are other brands (like Logitech) that have clearly worked with Amazon to make sure that resellers cannot sell items as “new” (only “used”). But agree that there’s no point in fighting a deep-pocketed corporation, even if you’re right (unless it’s very meaningful to you).

  4. If you bought it, even if you didn’t use it, it’s technically not new. That’s why we say “as new” or “never used” or “unopened.” If you buy a new car, put it on a trailer and carry it off the lot, it is no longer new. It may be cherry, mint, factory fresh, or reeking of new-car smell, but it is also used.
    How you feel or your understanding of things really doesn’t change the reality of things. Probably no-one is surprised that a manufacturer wants to protect it’s retailer relationships. What’s surprising is that it only took one instance to trigger a hound-release.

    • This is not true. By your logic ALL items are not new unless sold directly form the manufacturer. If I buy a case of items from a wholesaler by your logic they are no longer new since I bought them.

      If the item is unopened in its sealed box it is new. Period. Doesn’t matter how many times it has been bought and sold.

  5. Ebay took off my listings of software due to the same bull crap of copyright infringement too. I just sell one or two a month. Worrying that they will shut down my account, I have stopped selling them for a while now. The irony is there are a lot of other listings that sell software and they are not authorized seller either. Don’t know what how do they execute their policy.

  6. Amazon is one of my sales channels and they are very strict on authorized resellers for electronics. If a buyer claims that your item is not new or authentic and you don’t have invoices they will shut down your account, let the buyer keep the item and not refund you your money. You got off cheap as there have been lots of people selling new iPhones they got at launch on Amazon only to lose the phone and their money when a buyer claimed the seller was selling it as condition other than described. Only authorized resellers can list as new. They don’t care if you have a receipt from the Apple Store you lose the case every time. Go sell on eBay they don’t care.

  7. Zero reseller experience here, but I just dont understand why EVERYONE is selling EVERYTHING on eBay and Amazon as new all the time and not being shut down?? And even Craigslist. I guess Craigslist doesnt count or not worth targeting here since its so ghetto, but if electronic companies are so aggressive then what about other products? No way all resellers are authorized.

  8. Your experience is not uncommon. I have gotten notices from manufacturers about selling below MSRP, but no cease and desist warnings about reselling.
    They are, of course, not legally justifiable. The First Sale doctrine gives you the right to resell new merchandise as such. It doesn’t even make Public Relations or marketing sense to discourage reselling. And from a discount copycat manufacturer like Belkin, boggles the mind!

  9. Well I didn’t specifically have an issue but I once sold a V-moda headphone I had gotten during black friday for about $100 less than msrp on Amazon, only to find out that my buyer was V-moda’s own head of marketing. Why would a company buy their own products from sellers doesn’t seem like a very honest move to me so I cancelled his purchase and lost respect for the company.

    • Why would you care who the buyer is so long as they pay? Did you think he would scam you?

      A company could have a policy to buy items that are far below MSRP so that customers don’t get accustomed to seeing it for sale that cheap (and stop buying it for retail price). Also, if he could buy it from you for $100 less than retail, then sell it for retail price, then he just made $100.

      I’ve read a little about luxury brands buying back product so that it doesn’t dilute their market.

    • I’ve had orders for Hasbro products FROM Hasbro before. And the same with other companies too. It happens all the time.

  10. I got a brief note through the Amazon messaging system from either the manufacturer or another reseller with a link to the company MAP policy. I had to google what that meant – Minimum Advertised Price. I was 30 cents under it – but Amazon was 50 cents under it, lol. I don’t know how a MAP is legal. I remember about a dozen department store cosmetics brands getting in deep water for their price-fixing, and the solution was kinda funny – on one particular day around the country, you could go up to the counter and demand your freebie. Not a sample or free gift pouf or something, but an actual $24 lipstick or whatever. I don’t see how a MAP policy is different. Anyway, the toy I was dealing in was Magformers, I forget the parent company. I just dropped my price another 50 cents to undercut Amazon and my 5 units were sold in an hour.

  11. I’m not at all informed about reselling, but using a company’s images or logos is copyright and/or trademark infringement and only authorized resellers are granted that use. Perhaps this is part of the issue.

    • That’s true, but the images are Amazon’s unless Shawn has added some of his own. And since the brand name is part of the product being (legally) sold, it’s absolutely fair use of the trademark. I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.

  12. eBay has no minimum price requirement. Sure, a company can claim infringement through the Vero program, but as long as the images of the product are from your own camera and watermarked by you the manufacturer can go pound sand. Although, with sensitive companies it is better to sell the item as not new if you insist on a large price undercut. Then, it’s harder for them to claim it’s a fake item. I don’t sell on Amazon for a number of reasons.

  13. Had the same thing happen with Belkin. Had a few other specialty/high end brands send similar messages on Amazon – but each time, my listings sold out within an hour or two anyway.

    This and unilateral pricing seem so anti-capitalist. It annoys me that they get away with this crap.

  14. “Not very nice?” You used their images, their trademark, and probably their description of their product. YOU CAN’T DO THAT–it’s copyright infringement. Period.

    • I suggest you look up the definition of fair use. (I am not an attorney so you can make up your own mind about it.) I will say by your logic I cannot even mention their name in this post since it is their trademark.

  15. The letter appears to be driven over the use of these words; “Authorized Reseller”. They repeat this over and over. Why not just sell these and remove those words/claim from your items?

    Why is everyone focused on the selling, and not the apparent issue of “Authorized Reseller”? After all, it is clear the seller has not enrolled in their “Authorized Reseller” program.

    • I’ve looked into it and apparently even listing yourself as “not an authorized reseller” doesn’t make them happy. The real issue is if they file a complaint with Amazon then your seller account can get shutdown which is a huge pain.

  16. If you’re commingling your inventory when you send to FBA, that could be another reason why the company is antsy about restricting sales of “new” merchandise to authorized sellers. Otherwise, your non-authorized (and thus potentially counterfeit) product could be shipped to someone who buys that product from an authorized seller (or even Amazon themselves), creating a huge headache for the manufacturer.

    MAP policies definitely live in a legal gray area, but it would take a hell of a lot of effort to get them ruled illegal under price-fixing laws. Keep in mind that most companies work with outside consulting firms to manage price integrity, and those firms specialize in understanding (and exploiting) the line between legal/illegal. You wouldn’t just be going up against Belkin (in this example), you’d be going up against a price integrity specialist who probably works with hundreds of companies, all of whom would have a vested interest in squashing the lawsuit.

  17. I would strongly suggest not patronizing companies that engage in this behavior. and be sure to write their executive offices (the consumerist.com) and let the know they won’t ever be getting your business, and why.

    This is obnoxious and abusive behavior. It will continue until they realize it’s costing them more than its gaining them.

  18. Are you using their trademark or holding yourself out as an authorized reseller? If not I would say this falls under the first sale doctrine which states once you buy something you can do what you want with it(including resell it) and the original seller has no further rights to it. I think Belkin knows this to from the wording of the letter not telling you to stop selling, but stop using their trademark. I would assume merely listing an item would not be trademark infringement.
    Please note: I am not giving legal advice or forming any sort of legal relationship, merely providing general information.

  19. Hello. I recently jumped headfirst into the world of reselling. I decided to ship the product myself rather than using FBA so I can still return the product within 30 days if I cannot sell it all. I have received amazon messages for on 2 different “interested buyers” asking me to message them on their personal email addresses. Is this some kind of scam? I don’t understand why someone would make a request like this…

    • ” I don’t understand why someone would make a request like this…”

      That’s because they wouldn’t….unless they’re trying to get you to ship them something they have no intention to pay for. Don’t get got.

      • Haha! I have no intention of gettin got. I did not, and will not reply to these odd requests. I was just curious what these fools are trying to do.

  20. I got a message like this one from a different company. With that being said, I would rather shut down the said product than go through hassles I don’t even wanna think about. x.x

  21. I know 2 other Amazon sellers who were suspended in the last month for selling Amazon returns *back on* Amazon. Because they can’t control which items they get (only buying by category), what are we to do? I’m the only one left of us three and I’m waiting for Amazon to pull the rug out from under me. Is there any legal recourse to find their policy of always siding with the manufacturer? This is obviously undermining the First Sale Doctrine.

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