False trademark claims happen often in the business world. Managers and brand owners often have to deal with confusion and misunderstanding over when they can lawfully use the federal registration notice symbol. Many times, a technical violation or misuse of the violation comes from a mistake that is honest. However, sometimes the misuse is intentional or can look intentional if it isn't quickly fixed, once it's discovered.

What Are the Answers to the Most Common Questions Regarding Symbol Misuse?

According to Section 906 of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, here are some of the answers to the most popular questions:

  • The federal registration symbol can only be used in connection with or on the services or goods stated in the federal registration.
  • The symbol can't be used with marks that aren't officially registered with the USPTO.
  • Regardless of the pending status of the application, the symbol can't be used until the mark is officially registered.
  • A person isn't entitled to use the notice just because they're registered in one of the United States.
  • The terms "trademark applied for," "SM," "trademark," and "TM" can be used whether or not the mark is registered, as they aren't statutory or official symbols of federal registration.

What Will Amazon Do If There Are Infringement Claims?

Amazon acts swiftly on any notice claims of infringement that are submitted and completed so they can meet the minimum liability standard. They'll let certain marketplace sellers know which party reported them, for which listing, and how to contact the person claiming ownership. The sellers are on their own after that, however. Unless the seller and their legal team can show that the notice claim isn't true, it's considered actionable and valid by Amazon.

However, many people who would potentially abuse the notice claims now know that anyone is able to submit a form. This doesn't concern Amazon when it comes to the extra verification or vetting process. Investigators will simply look to see if the form is complete in the appropriate spots, stop the listings, and notify the appropriate people. Amazon is not in charge of verifying if the information is valid or correct. The person claiming rights makes a declaration that's legally binding when they fill out the form and sign it.

The seller needs to chase down any party that sends in a false claim against them and show Amazon why the allegations aren't true. Unfortunately, there isn't any guarantee that you'll be successful at this. Amazon won't give out anything besides an email address and won't get further involved to prevent the company from becoming involved in a dispute mediation. Amazon only assesses the documents they get, looks for the seller storefronts, and suspends or warns the seller.

With the number of forms that come in each day, there's no way for Amazon to take the time to verify each one. However, sellers find it frustrating that they may get suspended with no warning. They feel that there's no much sense of protection, even when they follow the rules.

Steps to Reduce the Chance of Your Store Being Taken Down

To reduce your store from being taken down, there are several steps you can take. First, contact the rights owner to see if they reply with any helpful or additional information. If this gets resolved and they contact Amazon to take back their form, that's the best possible outcome.

If that doesn't work, you can hire a lawyer who knows how to deal with these types of situations. You'll want someone who has dealt with resolving disputes over right's ownership and Amazon. The lawyer can write a legal letter to send to the party or their attorney. If they don't get a reply, they can help you contact the Notice-Dispute teams at Amazon.

Another step is to ask your supplier if you can have the information for the real rights owner. You'll then be able to ask them to give you a letter of authorization or have them talk to Amazon themselves. If you can't get this information from Amazon, you may be able to search the USPTO database to find the rights owner.

If you need help with false trademark claims, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.