Selling on Amazon is becoming more complicated every day and selling goods online involves many different legal challenges. Even though it is not an official field of law, the term “Amazon law” has been established in recent years and an increasing number of lawyers specialize in this field.
As an Amazon seller, you will probably sooner or later need the help of such a specialized Amazon seller lawyer. To protect your business and intellectual property, to avoid or reverse suspensions, and to defend yourself in court against competitors and other plaintiffs.
If you need a lawyer, it’s important that you hire a competent and experienced expert that you can trust and who will devote a lot of time and attention to your case.
We will show you what makes a good Amazon lawyer, what costs you can expect for using their services, and what questions you should ask before agreeing to hire them.
What is an Amazon Seller Lawyer?
An Amazon seller lawyer is a licensed attorney who deals with all legal issues concerning the eCommerce industry and especially selling on Amazon. They can advise you in dealing with legal matters, help you enforce your rights and protect you from legal disputes.
In addition, lawyers who specialize in Amazon typically are familiar with Amazon’s rules and guidelines and know how to apply them appropriately. Such a lawyer can also help you with listing and account suspensions, for instance.
What can an Amazon Lawyer help you with?
The fast and constant changes in the world of e-commerce pose ever new challenges for sellers. Apart from the “classic” legal aspects such as the formation of the right business entity and trademark registrations, the lawyer can also support you in many Amazon specific issues.
Here is a small overview of the most important services that most Amazon lawyers offer:
Protect your Intellectual Property
In the field of intellectual property law, an ecommerce lawyer can assist you in many ways. He can help you avoid copyright infringements and protect your own copyrights, for example by preventing competitors from using your product photos, infographics and listing descriptions without your approval.
An Amazon seller lawyer also offers advice and assistance in the area of trademark and patent law. This mainly concerns the use of logos, (product) designs and trademarks. For example, if you have your own private label business, you should have your brand and designs protected by a professional attorney.
When working with an Amazon lawyer, you will also be protected in the best way possible from so-called listing hijackers, i.e. competing third party sellers who jump on your private label product listing and sell your product – usually a knock off – at a lower price.
Keep in mind that it’s important that you protect your intellectual property internationally when selling in foreign countries and also protect your IP in the countries where your products are manufactured. If you are located in the USA, but have your products manufactured in China and also sell in Germany, you should have your intellectual property protected in all three countries. You should consult local lawyers who are familiar with the laws in the respective countries and states.
It can also happen that you are accused by competitors of having violated their trademark or patent rights. Amazon does not have the best system to deal with such cases, which is why they often suspend listings (and sometimes whole accounts) as a precautionary measure. If you’re affected by such a suspension you could obviously face a considerable loss of revenue. An experienced Amazon lawyer can help you to get your listings or your account reinstated as quickly as possible.
Fight and Prevent Listing & Account Suspensions
As explained above, Amazon often suspends listings and even entire seller accounts without sufficient reason but on mere suspicion. If Amazon believes that you have violated Amazon’s terms of service and/or prevailing laws, your seller account will be deactivated and your sales privileges will be revoked. If Amazon deprives you of your selling privileges, it can have serious economic consequences for your business, because not only will you not be able to make new sales, but your funds in your seller account will be frozen.
Getting a listing or account reinstated is anything but easy. You usually have only one attempt to explain your situation and submit your plan of action. So before you try to get reinstated on your own, you should consult an expert. Amazon usually gives little or no indication of why your account has been suspended in the first place. An Amazon suspension lawyer speaks the language of Amazon, will find the cause of your suspension and can write you an effective plan of action to help you appeal the suspension.
In addition to successfully reinstating your listings or account, an Amazon seller lawyer can also advise you how to avoid future suspensions.
Help with Settlements and Assist with Litigation
If a dispute with a competitor escalates to the point of litigation in court, a lawyer can adequately represent you, defend your business and enforce your rights.
For example, in some cases you may be entitled to compensation if your listing or account has been suspended due to false accusations and you have lost sales.
Represent you in Arbitration Proceedings against Amazon
In the contract with Amazon you conclude when you want to sell on the platform, you waive the right to take Amazon to court. However, you maintain the right to settle any legal disputes through arbitration. The advantage of arbitration processes is that they are usually much faster and cheaper than a real court case.
The arbitrator is a neutral third party, for example a retired judge or a lawyer, and whatever they decide, their decision is final – just like a decision made by a judge in court. Accordingly, Amazon is required by law to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.
Of course, Amazon will try to avoid not only legal disputes but also any arbitration proceedings. Your Amazon attorney will demand an arbitration on your behalf and develop the best possible strategy for you. For example, they can emphasize that you have always been a reliable seller, that you have not received any complaints, that you have excellent reviews, and so on.
Your lawyer will work closely with you to ensure that the arguments presented are convincing. If they draft a meaningful, concise and convincing arbitration with you, the case may eventually be settled in your favor.
Additional services an Amazon lawyer can help you with
Of course, an Amazon lawyer can also offer legal services that are not particularly related to selling online, including:
- Company Formation – An ecommerce lawyer can advise you on which business entity is the best for your business (e.g. LLC, S-Corp..)
- Legal Texts for Website – If you’re selling your product not only on Amazon, but also through your own online shop, you will need certain legal texts such as Privacy and Return Policies or Terms of
- Use agreements – Your lawyer can draft them for you.
- Contracts & Warranties – Your attorney can also draft contracts and warranty terms for you as well as review important documents before you sign them.
- Social Media Law – If you are active in social media, for example with a fan page for your brand or advertising campaigns, there are special laws and guidelines you need to follow which your lawyer will explain to you.
- … and more
Of course it is also incredibly important to be compliant with local tax laws. However, for any tax related legal issues, we recommend hiring a specialized Amazon seller accounting service.
Why should you work with an Amazon attorney?
Many sellers think it is only worth consulting a lawyer when they are suspended, sued or when their business is already generating millions of dollars in revenue.
In fact, you should seek legal assistance right at the beginning of your seller journey. For example, if you are selling under your own brand and have developed a special product for it, you should have the brand and, if possible, your design legally protected. A lawyer can help you with the filing of the required paperwork.
At every stage of your entrepreneurial career, it makes sense to have an Amazon experienced lawyer at your side and the reasons to consult a professional legal advisor are manifold. The legal system in every country is complex and difficult for laymen to understand. An attorney can help you navigate through the sea of legal challenges and protect your business.
How much does hiring an Amazon Seller Lawyer cost?
Before hiring a lawyer, it’s important to ask not only about the costs you will incur but also how you will be charged and when the payment is expected. It’s common for lawyers to charge by the hour but more and more attorneys now offer flat fees for certain services, meaning that you only pay as much as you agreed on no matter how many hours your lawyer spends on your case.
Some law firms also offer pre-paid legal plans that work similar to insurance. You pay a monthly fee and in return, you receive legal services as you need them as well as regular compliance and account health check-ups.
One cannot generally say how much it costs to hire a lawyer. From 25 dollars per hour up to several hundred dollars per hour, anything is possible. But don’t worry, the latter is the absolute exception. Most Amzon lawyers have quite reasonable prices. However, the costs depend on various factors, such as
- The service that is performed – For instance, to draft a plan of action and send it to Amazon is cheaper than going through an arbitration process
- The complexity of your case – The more complicated your case is and the more hours your lawyer has to spend on it, the more you will have to pay him
- The location of the lawyer – Lawyers located in expensive cities are usually more expensive than lawyers from cities with lower cost of living
Many people are not aware of how quickly legal fees can add up and what extra costs can be incurred. Therefore, it is important that you speak openly and honestly with your lawyer about the costs and ask them specifically what additional fees could be involved. Sometimes it is also possible to negotiate with lawyers about their fees, so that you sometimes end up paying less.
For example, you can ask if some of the work can be done by a junior lawyer or paralegal. Since they have a lower hourly rate, you may be able to reduce the fees.
If your lawyer is paid by the hour, make sure you keep your conversations short and to the point. Avoid small talk and only call your lawyer when there is something to discuss about your case. Do not spend hours talking to them about the weather or complaining about the overall situation. You can do this with your partner or friends – they will certainly not bill you for it.
Most Amazon seller lawyers offer a free initial evaluation of your case. During this conversation, you briefly present your case and roughly describe what it is about. The lawyer can then give you more information and tell you if and how they can help you. So if such a free initial assessment meeting is offered, you should definitely take advantage of it.
What makes a great Amazon Lawyer?
When it comes to your business, you obviously only want to work with the best lawyers out there. However, it can be difficult to distinguish the good attorneys from the bad ones. This is why we have summarized the characteristics of a good Amazon seller lawyer for you:
They have a fair and transparent pricing structure
A good lawyer is always upfront about his costs. If there is no fixed fee but instead they work by the hour, they should be able to tell you in advance how many hours they will approximately need to work on your case. If a lawyer puts odd extra hours on his bill or charges any additional costs that you have not been informed about beforehand, that is definitely a red flag.
They are great at communication and respond quickly
If you need a lawyer, they should be at your disposal immediately. If, for example, a competitor counterfeits your product and sells it on Amazon, you will need quick legal help and a reliable lawyer who will immediately send a cease-and-desist letter to the counterfeiter and take the necessary further legal steps.
If it takes days for your lawyer to contact you and take the appropriate legal action, you may already have lost dozens of customers and hundreds of sales. You need someone who actually cares about your problems and makes time for dealing with them.
In general, communication skills are an excellent indicator of your attorney’s competence. They should be able to communicate in such a way that you know at all times what the state of affairs is and what is currently being done to protect your rights. Thus, they should constantly keep you updated if there is any news regarding your case, when a new strategy is planned or when you are facing any additional costs that you didn’t expect.
They don’t make any promises
No lawyer can predict how a case will turn out. Although they can estimate on the basis of their experience how promising your chances are, they should never guarantee that a legal dispute will end in your favor. If a lawyer promises you that you will definitely win your case, then that is certainly a red flag.
They never miss any deadlines
When it comes to legal disputes, especially in court and arbitration proceedings, it is extremely important that deadlines are met. If documents are not submitted on time or an objection is not filed within the deadline, you could lose the entire case. A quality lawyer is always well organized, keeps track of all deadlines and never misses a single one.
They are specialized and have lots of experience
Typically, each lawyer specializes in a particular field of law and primarily handles cases that fit that field. Your Amazon lawyer should thus have relevant experience with cases similar to yours. When it comes to intellectual property issues, your lawyer should be a real expert in the field and already have a lot of experience. A lawyer who has mainly specialized in fraud cases might not be the best choice to represent you in IP disputes. The quantity of cases that the lawyer has already handled is not important, but the quality, i.e. the specialization.
Also, you should always hire a local Amazon attorney. Laws and Amazon regulations vary from country to country and sometimes even from state to state. If you live in the USA but also sell in the UK and you have a legal dispute with a British competitor, you should also hire a British lawyer who is familiar with the law in the United Kingdom.
They get straight to the point
As mentioned above, it is important not to waste time with lawyers – in particular with the ones who are paid by the hour. Your lawyer should also be aware of that and avoid trying to artificially prolong conversations with you in order to charge you for more hours. Moreover, complicated cases are especially time sensitive, so your lawyer should act quickly.
How to find the Best Amazon Seller Lawyer to protect your Business – In Just 3 Simple Steps!
Step 1: Prepare your documents & summarize your case
Before you start looking for a suitable lawyer, you first need to get organized and prepare well for working with your lawyer. Gather all documents relevant to the case and summarize your requirements as well as the previous development of your case.
Additionally, you should prepare a written list of questions to ask your lawyer during your first meeting. Being well prepared makes it easier for you to structure the conversation and take notes.
Step 2: Do your research and conduct a thorough interview
Once you are well prepared, you can start looking for a suitable lawyer. The good news is that Instead of having to go through hundreds of search result pages on Google and click through all the websites, you can simply go to Sermondo to find the best lawyers. All lawyers who are part of our network are specialized in working with Amazon sellers and know exactly what is important.
You can either compare the listings of different law firms yourself or use our free matching service. Just fill out our matching form where you describe why you need a lawyer, where they should be located and what is important to you. We will then find the perfect attorney for your needs. If you want us to do so, we can also give you more than one suggestion.
Then it’s time for a first meeting. Although it’ s common in the Amazon industry to get a free initial consultation, you should still ask in advance if there will be any charges for the first meeting. This way you can avoid unpleasant costly surprises.
During the conversation itself, you should be able to explain your current situation and why you need their help. Make sure to ask the lawyer about their experience, their education, their pricing and questions related to your case.
If possible, try to arrange a video conference. A video call is the closest you can get to getting someone to know face to face.
Here’s a list with questions you should ask them:
- How much experience do you have in the relevant field of law?
- Have you dealt with similar cases before? If yes, how many?
- What’s your educational background?
- What do you think of my situation and case?
- Can you devote enough time to my case?
- Who in your firm will work on my case?
- When do you think my problem will be resolved?
- What does your pricing look like?
- (When) Can you give me an estimate of how much your services will cost me?
- What’s included in your offer?
- What are additional costs I could incur?
- What am I required to do?
- Which documents do I need to provide?
- How often will we speak about my case? Weekly, biweekly, not on a regular basis?
Listen closely to what they are saying and also how they are saying it and remember to take notes during the meeting so you can later recap your conversation. Taking notes also makes it easier to compare different lawyers if you interview more than one.
Keep in mind that you’re not obliged to work with them after the first meeting, so if you don’t like their answers or if you get the feeling that you won’t get along very well, you’re still free to consider other options.
Step 3: Agree on the terms of the collaboration
Once you have chosen a lawyer, make sure you are on the same page about what you have agreed on. Put everything relevant to your case in writing. How much you will (presumably) have to pay, what exactly the lawyer will do for you, how the reporting will look like etc. Only if you have these things in writing you can refer to them later if you are not satisfied with your lawyer’s performance.
If there are any things that are not clear or there are costs or conditions in the service contract that you do not understand, make sure you ask for an explanation before you confirm or sign anything.
As explained above, a quality Amazon lawyer is always honest and transparent, so he will have no problem explaining it to you. Remember that it’s your lawyer’s job to help you, and that includes helping you understand things that may not be obvious to you.
You should also discuss what is the best way you communicate with each other. If you would like to have regular phone calls, tell your lawyer about it. If you would rather be contacted via email, let them know.
Conclusion – Hire a Top eCommerce Lawyer Now to Protect your Amazon Business!
We hope you enjoyed reading our guide and that we could answer all of your questions. Hopefully you now feel well prepared to hire a good lawyer for your Amazon business.
Keep in mind that you should never try to take care of your own legal matters, as this can quickly backfire and in the worst case cost you your business. A professional Amazon seller lawyer can support you in all legal matters and protect you from attacks by competitors.
If you still have any questions about finding and hiring the right Amazon lawyer for your business, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you ASAP.