Over the past few months I’ve been working closely with a couple other Amazon sellers (Bver Vienneau and Ester Hacken) as part of an advisory board to an group called AFTA. The goal is to begin to form a coalition of third party sellers to push back against the baseless, fraudulent and/or legally shaky Intellectual Property/Copyright/Counterfeit claims that are being lodged against sellers on the Amazon marketplace.
AFTA has a long history of being advocates for people that source product from secondary markets. They were originally founded in response to the 1988 Kmart v. Cartier Supreme Court case by a group of third party distributors to support Kmart in challenging a Customs rule prohibiting import of legitimate goods from overseas into the US. The case was ultimately decided in Kmart’s favor and this ruling is what allows (with a few caveats) the import of parallel goods if the U.S. and foreign trademark owner are under “common control or ownership” effectively stopping the ability of a multi national company to control global distribution of genuine branded goods. AFTA was instrumental in ensuring that the customs rules that came out of this ruling were fair and still works very closely with customs to this day to advocate for the rights of sellers to import legitimate products.
In a more recent case that many of us may be familiar with a company named “Quality King” took a “First Sale Doctrine” case all the way to the Supreme Court and (Quality King Distributors v. L’anza Research International) – AFTA was also very involved in that case.
If the company name “Quality King” sounds familiar to you then it’s probably from this article about Pharmapacks, which talks about Quality King being one of the major distributors that provides them their products and drives them to be the juggernaut that they are on Amazon.
AFTA being willing to get involved with actively protecting third party sellers like us on the Amazon platform is a HUGE deal. I’d like to ask that all Amazon sellers consider getting involved in this as we attempt to come together to push back against bogus claims. There are a couple ways that you can do that.
1. Please “Like” the “AFTA Internet Sellers” page to keep up to date on what AFTA is doing. https://www.facebook.com/pg/aftainternetsellers
2. We have a secret group where people share advice on how to respond to claims and we talk about this type of issue – if you would like to be added please shoot me a message on Facebook.
3. PLEASE consider becoming a paying member of AFTA.
In the short term, AFTA has created a letter of support essentially saying “Hey, this person is a member of our trade organization, here are the various legal reasons that they are allowed to sell your product” that they will send on your behalf to any company that files a claim against you.
Also, sometime in the near future all paid members of AFTA will be given access to a “legal library” of form letters to allow you to push back against bogus claims filed against you.
The long term (and most important, IMHO) goals of AFTA involve opening a dialogue directly with Amazon about the issues that sellers are facing to see if we can figure out a solution. They also plan on leveraging their relationships to potentially put legislative solutions in place to protect us.
For more information on joining AFTA please click on the image below. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out. I’m excited to see how things develop in regards to what they are able to help us do.
I want to be very clear that the members of the AFTA Internet Sellers Advisory Board (Bver Vienneau, Ester Hacken and I) do not financially benefit from any money going to AFTA. We are all volunteering our time and voice to try and help bring the community together under the banner of an existing trade organization that has the “juice” to help us bring our concerns in front of people that I believe can help us resolve them.