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Walmart IP Claim Suspension – How to Avoid, and How to Fix it

So far, selling on Walmart.com’s marketplace so far easier than Amazon when it comes to Intellectual Property Issues. Amazon’s approach to sellers seems to turn more sour and they have largely adopted a “suspend first, ask questions later” approach. Unfortunately though, Walmart has recently started suspending some users for IP Claims as well, though not as frequently as Amazon by far. In this article, we’ll cover the notices that Walmart sends regarding IP claims, and what you can do about them.

Since filing an IP claim on Walmart is as simple as filling out a form, it seems that Walmart is taking it upon themselves to do some kind of due diligence on the validity of the claims (which is great!). Our best guess is that once they have sufficient documentation about the claim, then they will send the an additional notification to the seller. asking the seller to prove the legitimacy of the products in question.

There are a few different notices based on the type of claim, and there are 4 types of claims:

  • Copyright
  • Trademark
  • Patent
  • Counterfeit

Below are the examples of the notices that Walmart sends about these claims

Copyright Claim Received-Item Removed

Hello,

This email is to inform you that we have unpublished certain items from your Walmart Marketplace inventory as we received a claim that the images used are copyrighted by brand_name_here. The unpublished item(s) are/is listed below:

item_id – brand_name – text_description
item_id – brand_name – text_description
item_id – brand_name – text_description

We are currently working to resolve the matter and hope to get the items republished.

Regards,

Walmart Trust & Safety

Trademark Claim Received

Hello store_name,

Walmart is in receipt of a legal trademark claim. It is our understanding that you are the Marketplace Seller of the products at issue. The item(s) have not been removed at this time. You do not need to reply to this email.

Please promptly contact the claimant or its attorney directly to resolve this matter. We expect that you will abide by the terms of your agreements with Walmart regarding defense and indemnification of this matter.

company_name
Contact Person: company_contact
Email Address: company_email
Phone Number: company_phone

The items in question are:
item_id

Regards,

Walmart Trust & Safety

Notice of Intellectual Property Counterfeit Policy

Hello (store name),
As per our previous notices, it has come to our attention that a number of items within your catalog continue to be in violation of our Intellectual Property Counterfeit Policy. The following is an example of an item reported to Walmart for counterfeit concerns:

(item_id)-(item_title)

Per our previous requests, we ask that you remove the items and similar items in your catalog. If we do not receive a response from you by date_stamp, we will be required to take further action on your account. Please respond on or before the stated deadline with a plan of action for remedying this matter or your account may be suspended within the next 30 days.

You can review our Intellectual Property Policies for more information:

https://help.walmart.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/254/~/making-a-claim-of-intellectual-property-infringement

For more information regarding how to remove items from your inventory, please see the following:

https://sellerhelp.walmart.com/seller/s/guide?article=000007711

If you have questions about our Intellectual Property Policies or would like additional guidance please create a case via Seller Center with attention to Trust and Safety and include the code “TNS” with your inquiry.
Regards,
Walmart Trust & Safety

If we have a look at Walmart’s policy document as linked to in this last message, we can see their stance on the “first sale” doctrine and how they police it (or don’t) on their platform which is worth noting. It reads…

Although a manufacturer may enter into an exclusive distribution agreement with a seller of a product, violations of such an agreement are not the subject of IP infringement. Under the IP laws of the United States, rights owners may lose their rights to prevent the further sale of a product after the “first sale” by the manufacturer. Therefore, the enforcement of exclusive distribution agreements is a matter between the manufacturer and its retailers, and Walmart will not take action to enforce such agreements.

This is good news for resellers in particular since it means that Walmart is more open than Amazon is when it comes to allowing the free market to proceed unhindered. Any sellers can resell items under the first sale doctrine, and Walmart acknowledges this fact here. This is likely why they seem to handle all copyright infringements themselves and why, in the case of the trademark infringement, they request that the sellers work with the brand owner / rights owner directly.

This also makes it more likely that the IP Claim Suspension is due to some other “trigger” that Walmart is looking at other than just a claim such as actually counterfeiting items.

When this does happen, here is what the suspension notice looks like:

Walmart IP Claim Suspension Notice

This message is to inform you that your account has been suspended for 7 days due to violation of our Intellectual Property Policy. We have notified you previously with examples of reported items in your catalog. We have now received additional reports raising copyright concerns.

This suspension is to enable you to review and correct the issues with products in your inventory. Below are examples of items reported to Walmart for copyright concerns:

item_id_here
item_id_here
item_id_here
item_id_here

You can review our Intellectual Property Policies for more information:

https://help.walmart.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/254/~/making-a-claim-of-intellectual-property-infringement

For more information regarding how to remove items from your inventory, please see the following:

https://sellerhelp.walmart.com/seller/s/guide?article=000007711

We ask that you make necessary changes or remove non-compliant products from your catalog. Further violations will result in termination of your seller account. You can contact us by creating a case via Seller Center. Include the code “TNS” in the case and provide your plan of action of how you intend to review your inventory and prevent from uploading prohibited items.

Regards,
representative_name
Walmart Trust & Safety

Here are the possible reasons for this suspension. Please note that these are not definitive, and we are still compiling more information so we can better help sellers avoid these issues.

  • You have listed items under a different UPC code than the actual product UPC code when you are creating listings.
  • You have listed items which you are not authorized to sell by the brand owner / manufacturer. (This is possible but not likely. See discussion above.)
  • Walmart or a legal firm (or rights owner) has done a test purchase of your item and has concluded that you actually are selling counterfeit items.
  • You have received too many notifications about IP claims relative to the number of listings that you have and/or your longevity as a seller.

How to Avoid Suspensions

Here are some ways that you can avoid suspensions

  1. Don’t counterfeit. Obviously this should go without saying, but there are unfortunately some unscrupulous people out there.
  2. Make sure the item you’re listing EXACTLY matches the item on Walmart’s catalog.
  3. Keep accurate records of where you bought your items so that you can provide the paper trail to prove authenticity if Walmart asks for it.
  4. Don’t list items from brands which are likely to cause you trouble. Some brands are overly sensitive, so it can be best to just stay away. When viewing an item on Walmart.com, our WM Seller Tools extension will tell you if the item or brand is likely to cause you issues. We compile data from over 100 sellers across over 1 million products and continually refine our database.
  5. Respond to Walmart when they ask you to. Even if you respond and don’t have a paper trail, it’s better to be honest and tell them that (and take down those items) then to just not respond and hope the claims go away.

Bonus Tip – When Walmart suspends for this reason, they cancel all open orders to prevent more “counterfeit” items from going out. Therefore, always be sure you are shipping your items out as quickly as you can and be sure to upload your tracking to Walmart Seller Central as quickly as possible also. Procrastination here can cost you since all items which you have shipped without uploading tracking will be cancelled by Walmart if you get suspended.

 

What to Do if You Are Already Suspended

If you are already suspended from Walmart’s Marketplace due to an IP Claim suspension, here is what you should do.

  1. Read their notice to be sure you understand the issue. Be sure to review the items they messaged you about and check to see if they have sent you previous notices about those same items or brands.
  2. Create a POA (Plan of Action) which explains what happened, what caused the issue, what you have implemented to make sure this issue does not occur again, and which policies you have reviewed to be sure this does not happen again. Your plan should definitely include any proof that you have of the authenticity of your products (if the claim was said to be counterfeit) or any other proof you can submit (in the case of other claims).

If you would like help writing your POA, please get in touch with us, and we would be happy to help you write one. Just get in touch here.