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Amazon’s Controversy Over Banning Trademark Attorneys: What You Need to Know

amazon trademark attorney ban

In early 2023, Amazon was accused of banning trademark attorneys from representing clients in its Brand Registry programme. The accusations came from two trademark attorneys, who filed defamation lawsuits against Amazon. Amazon denied that it had a list of banned attorneys, but the company admitted that its system had been flagging attorneys incorrectly. Amazon apologised to the affected attorneys and said that it was working to fix the problem.Further in this blog post, we’re shedding light on the controversy that brought to light the tussle between Amazon and trademark attorneys. Keep learning to surface the reasons of Amazon trademark attorney ban and how the process affects Amazon sellers.

amazon trademark attorney bank
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The Accusations of Amazon Trademark Attorney Ban

Earlier this year, Amazon found itself in hot water over allegations of banning trademark attorneys from participating in its Brand Registry programme. Two trademark attorneys brought these accusations to light, filing defamation lawsuits against the online retail giant.

Amazon’s automated systems allegedly combed through USPTO filings and flagged instances where any associated attorney had faced disciplinary action. The ripple effect of this meant that even if a case was transferred to a new, unsanctioned attorney, they too would face hurdles in obtaining brand registry codes, vital for sellers to guard their trademarks on Amazon.

Currently, it’s unknown how many trademark attorneys may have been affected or how many trademark lawyers faced the consequences. The recent example of lawsuit brought by metro D.C. lawyer, however, claims he has lost upward of 75% of his trademark business.

While these are lawyers who get “blacklisted”, the damaging effect on sellers should not be underestimated.  Several clients of affected lawyers claimed they were not approved to sell their products on Amazon. The reason for the denial was the connection with the “abusive attorneys”. We’re reminding you that under Amazon policy, sellers who wish to sell goods on Amazon must successfully register their products via the Amazon Brand Registry – a programme designed to assist brand owners in safeguarding their intellectual property rights.

trademark attorney
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Amazon’s Response

Amazon was quick to counter these allegations. While they denied the existence of any so-called “blacklist” of attorneys, they did concede that errors had occurred within their automated system. This resulted in the incorrect flagging of certain attorneys. To rectify the situation, Amazon apologised to those affected and assured stakeholders that corrective measures were underway.

Conversely, some attorneys’ clients reportedly received contrasting narratives from Amazon. The plaintiffs argue that this misinformation negatively impacted their legal practice. Some lawyers assert that several of their primary clients were suggested to seek alternative legal representation for the brand registration process.

The Implications

While this issue might have been resolved, it has ignited a debate about Amazon’s influence and its implications for the legal profession. Critics are wary of the company’s immense power. Some assert that Amazon’s actions might stifle competition by barring attorneys from representing their clients effectively, particularly in the platform’s crucial area of trademark registration. The complaint also states that numerous bans of attorneys was an attempt to promote Amazon’s accelerator programme with a list of its own curated trademark attorneys.

On the flip side, there’s the argument that Amazon’s intentions might be genuine. With the ever-present risk of fraudulent trademark filings, perhaps the company is simply taking measures to protect its interests.

However, it’s essential to recognise the broader ramifications. While Amazon may not be breaking any laws by excluding trademark attorneys from its Brand Registry programme, its actions hold sway over the trademark landscape. Given that the Brand Registry is pivotal for sellers to safeguard their trademarks on the platform, any undue restrictions can adversely impact the profession.

trademark attorney ban amazon
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The Lawsuits: What Comes Next of Amazon Trademark Attorney Ban

The storm hasn’t quite passed. The two trademark attorneys who brought the initial accusations to the fore remain steadfast in their pursuit of justice through defamation lawsuits. The outcomes of these legal battles could set precedents and significantly shape the dynamics between Amazon and the trademark profession.

In Conclusion

The recent controversy involving Amazon and trademark attorneys underscores the complex interplay between big tech companies and professional sectors. As the digital marketplace grows, checks and balances must ensure that no single entity wields disproportionate power. Stakeholders, be they sellers, legal professionals, or the companies themselves, need to remain vigilant and committed to fostering a fair and transparent ecosystem.

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