Entrepreneur Mariani Robinson was taken by surprise when Amazon removed six of her listings from its online marketplace. Her business Naturally Lady produces high-quality, eco-friendly reusable sanitary products that were proving popular in a market increasingly valuing sustainability in its purchasing decisions. A competitor sent a takedown notice to Amazon saying that, as the holder of design rights, Mariani’s product was similar to theirs, resulting in the removal of Naturally Lady’s products from the platform.
Overnight, Mariani lost sales, income and much of her market. She approached Harper James’ intellectual property team for legal assistance with the situation she found herself in.
Using a rarely-used aspect of intellectual property law known as the laws against unjustified threats, we were able to successfully reverse Amazon’s removal of Mariani’s listings. Because Naturally Lady’s complainant went straight to a third party (Amazon) with the complaint rather than talking to our client direct, their actions were considered to constitute an ‘actionable threat.’ Naturally Lady was losing income as a result of the unjustified threat, so we sought the withdrawal of the original complaint to Amazon, damages on Mariani’s behalf, as well as payment of her legal costs.
Thanks to the careful negotiation of our IP expert lawyer Lindsay Gledhill and her team, we were able to win the dispute for Naturally Lady, achieving a favourable outcome. The other party agreed to withdraw the original design rights complaint, and to not file any more complaints with Amazon. They also paid Mariani’s legal fees. With her sales listings reinstated and a key income source reactivated, Mariani can now focus on developing her brand and expanding her growing business.
Lindsay Gledhill, intellectual property partner, said: ‘More and more small businesses are dependent on platforms such as Amazon. But Amazon’s systems are semi-automated, so once Amazon acts on a takedown notice, it can be extremely difficult for an innocent seller to get their product reinstated. In this case we were able to identify cost-effective procedures to right the wrong and we’re really pleased we were able to help.’
Mariani Robinson, founder of Naturally Lady, added: ‘It was difficult to find suitable support for my IP problem and such a relief to find Harper James Solicitors. Lindsay was fantastic at guiding me through the process and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. It’s a cautionary tale for online sellers everywhere and I’m grateful that my case communicates the benefits of a “talk first” approach rather than resolution in court.’