Liability, Entitlement, and the Court of Bezos: Legal Considerations for E-Com Businesses – 211
Sooner or later, it seems that everyone selling on Amazon finds themselves in some form of disagreement. It might be with a buyer or another seller. Or, it could be with Amazon itself. One thing that’s for sure, the scales of justice aren’t always calibrated equally in Amazon’s giant e-commerce ecosystem.
It’s Amazon’s marketplace and they make the rules. That’s why it’s important that we pay close attention to Tim’s latest guest. Today on the AM/PM Podcast, Tim Jordan welcomes Yael Cabilly, one of the leading attorneys in the field of E-Commerce and Intellectual Property Law.
Yael and Tim talk about the sense of entitlement that’s crept into e-commerce and balance that with a discussion of the complexities of dealing with a selling environment with a set of rules that unquestionably favor Amazon itself.
In episode 211 of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim and Yael discuss:
- 02:00 -- A Shared Facebook Story Leads to a Career
- 04:30 -- Intellectual Property and Product Protection
- 06:30 -- Helping Amazon Sellers Understand Intellectual Property
- 09:00 -- E-Commerce Life isn’t Always Easy OR Fair
- 12:00 -- Yael – “There are Two Types of Amazon Sellers”
- 15:00 -- Fighting Against Amazon?
- 16:30 -- Amazon’s Centrifugal Wheel
- 18:30 -- Suspended by Amazon’s Algorithm
- 21:00 -- Pay Attention to Amazon’s Warnings
- 23:00 -- Withheld Funds Cause Big Problems
- 26:00 -- Arbitration is Amazon’s Rule
- 28:00 -- No One Wants to Fight Amazon
- 30:00 -- E-Commerce Misinformation is Dangerous
- 33:00 -- Even the “Gurus” are Getting Better at Educating
- 36:30 -- Don’t Necessarily Trust Seller Support
- 40:00 -- How to Reach Out to Yael
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Tim Jordan: Are we victims or are we entitled? The guest on this episode of the AM/PM Podcast discusses all things legal when it comes to Amazon. We’re going to be talking about our rights as sellers. Things I didn’t even know, like we are not allowed to file a class action lawsuit against Amazon. I had no idea. We’re also going to talk about things like the liability of educators and gurus within the Amazon and e-commerce space. This is going to be a great episode. Make sure you listen to the end, check it out.
Tim Jordan: Hi. I’m Tim Jordan and in every corner of the world, entrepreneurship is growing. So join me as I explore the stories of successes and failures. Listen in as I chat with the risk takers, the adventurous and the entrepreneurial veterans. We all have a dream of living a life fulfilling our passions, and we want a business that doesn’t make us punch a time clock, but instead runs around the clock in the AM and the PM. So get motivated, get inspired. You’re listening to the AM/PM Podcast.
Tim Jordan: Hey everybody. And welcome to another episode of the AM/PM Podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking about all things legal and unfortunately I cannot claim to be an attorney, but our guest today can, and Yael, that is how you pronounce your name, right? Yael?
Yael Cabilly: Yael, yeah. You can say Yale, like the university. It’s fine.
Tim Jordan: Okay. Every time I start to say your name, I get a little bit hesitant. I’m like, did I say that right? So it’s Yael Cabilly, right?
Yael Cabilly: Yeah. Exactly.
Tim Jordan: Okay. And you have popped up recently as one of the legal experts here in the Amazon field, which is a growing field e-commerce marketplace field. And as I understand that you never expected to get into this industry or this genre of law, is that correct?
Yael Cabilly: Yeah, that’s right.
Tim Jordan: So tell me how you ended up here.
Yael Cabilly: Yeah. Okay. I was a trademark lawyer. I was doing trademarks and copyrights. I lived in New York for a while and I studied e-commerce and IP. So I started focusing on e-commerce when I went to law school in New York. And then when I came back here to Israel, an Amazon seller came to me and had a problem with some trademark issue. So I helped him and I remember he told me that he was the head of a community of about a thousand sellers. And he asked me if he could tell the story of what happened to him, and how this could be prevented. And so I said, yeah, of course, go ahead. And so he told the story on the Facebook group, the Facebook group now has 15,000 sellers. And so we told the story and the same day 20 sellers came to me, then asked for help. So I thought, wow, there was something interesting here. And then we did a webinar about intellectual property on Amazon and 40 sellers came to me that day. So I realized there’s a part of law that’s not really-- there are no lawyers in that field. So, I opened an account, and I started selling like arbitrage just to get the feeling of how it works and the seller central, and am still helping sellers with suspensions, accounts that got closed for IP or for something else. And one thing led to another and I decided to open my separate firm that deals with IP and e-commerce, that was in 2016. And then it grew, just like my clients. We grew with them. Today we’re 11-- most of the attorneys are New York attorneys and we deal-- I think 90% of my business is-- maybe 95% of my business is based on Amazon and problems on Amazon’s like half of the firm does suspensions and the other half does trademark copyright registration and issues around intellectual property.
Tim Jordan: All right. So it seems like the two largest sectors of help needed from a legal standpoint for marketplace sellers, not just Amazon, but Walmart, eBay, Etsy, whatever it is. The two biggest ones are intellectual property protection and then seller protection, right? So intellectual property protection and correct me if I’m wrong, would be protecting yourselves from being infringed upon by other sellers. Someone’s stealing your patent idea, someone utilizing your trademark, utilizing something that you’ve protected, right. And there’s a lot of content. There’s a lot of people that talk about that. I actually don’t want to run down that rabbit trail on this interview. What I’d like to do is talk about the segment of your business, the segment of needed legal protection for Amazon sellers on the marketplace itself. Right. And I’ve got a few questions, a few things that I want to bring up. I’ve got a few ideas that I want to share with you and see what you think, but tell me the majority of your business, protecting people from the marketplaces themselves. What does that entail? I know that you’ve talked about suspensions and things like that, but tell us the bulk of how you’re helping sellers based on the problems that they’re encountering, that they kind of need some legal muscle with.
Yael Cabilly: I found that there are two main problems on Amazon in particular, but other platforms as well. One is protecting your IP, and the second, and maybe even more important not to infringe other people’s IP. And I think that the second is where many sellers don’t know anything and they don’t know what they’re missing. And they’re always very, very-- they’re always very surprised when they get those problems. So for example, one of the things I do all the time is to give lectures of how not to infringe patents, how not to infringe trademark with where you look and how to search for a trademark before you pick your brand. One of the most, the craziest issue that we see all the time is people choosing a brand and then starting manufacturing, and then starting the whole process and getting reviews and everything. And then they want to get a trademark and they cannot get a trademark because it’s taken. And even they would have searched at the beginning if the trademark is taken or not, then that wouldn’t happen. And when that happened, it’s very difficult. They have to do it all over again. They cannot just change the brand today. Amazon doesn’t allow it. So I’m trying to educate as much as I can to-- how to prevent those mistakes from the beginning, how not to infringe, how not to miss a trademark search and also to make Amazon sellers understand that they have IP. For example, you own copyrights, okay. Anybody owns copyrights. If my son grows, he doesn’t draw that well. So he draws something. He has copyrights over that thing. So if you take a picture on your iPhone, you have copyrights. The second thing is to educate sellers that they own something. So they have, in most cases, a private label, he owns a brand. So he owns a trademark even before the registration. He owns rights in that brand. He owns copyrights in those photos. So again, many sellers, they complain about other sellers taking their photos and copying them on another listing. There’s a very easy way to just complain to Amazon, file a complaint according to the DMCA. It takes five minutes. I can explain to you how to do it. And the other one is gone. So I feel that in that sense, Amazon does enforce and sometimes over enforce. So the main problems that Amazon sellers are facing is when they infringed something and they did not know there was a patent, and how to enforce, they don’t know how to do it, although it’s super simple.
Tim Jordan: And I see a lot of people, and I’m sure you do too, that automatically assume that they’re innocent, right? So a lot of people I’m sure contact you, Oh, Amazon suspended my listings, or Amazon suspended me. This isn’t fair. This shouldn’t be happening to me, help me. And I suspect that a lot of times you look and you realize, Hey, you screwed up. Right? And I see this all the time in Facebook groups. I see this all the time in the community. I’m going to use this word and it’s going to freak a lot of people out, and I’m going to get like, people DMing me on Facebook with hate mail and that’s okay. But I feel like we, as especially a community, I won’t say society in general, although I might agree with that too. But we, as a community of sellers are entitled or we feel entitled. And this is like one of the soap boxes I can get on all the time as people get so upset because life wasn’t fair to them, or because they were treated unjustly. And what I’m noticing is a lot of the times, the people that are complaining about not being treated fairly didn’t put in the work, they didn’t do their own due diligence, or they screwed up.
Tim Jordan: I think that a lot of this comes from this atmosphere that’s created around e-commerce of this is easy. The guys are running Facebook messages, pay me $15,000. I’ll return your investment twice over in the next six months, because it’s easy. E-commerce is easy, do this do this. I think that a lot of people are coming into this area, this segment of business as this should be easy. And then when I find out, hey, it’s hard that doesn’t go well with them. It kind of rubs them the wrong way. How do you attempt to educate people that, hey, you’ve actually screwed up? You were suspended for a legitimate reason. You have to take ownership of this, and then how do you start creating a solution for them where they can start selling again, especially when a platform like Amazon is one of those you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. Someone just makes a claim, Oh, they’re infringing. Whether it’s true or not, Amazon cuts you off. So how do you explain to people, Hey, you screwed up and then how do you start getting them on the right track and selling again?
Yael Cabilly: Yeah. I had some of the sellers that actually cry. It’s not always easy, but usually starts with Yael, “I’ve got a patent issue, or I’ve got a copyright issue.” I mean, there are 45 sellers selling that product. I’m sure I’m okay. I had a client just a few weeks ago who came to me and said, I got a copyright complaint. I’m going to send it to you. You’re going to see it’s completely different. I’m completely innocent. You’ll see. It’s an easy case. I want a discount on it so I open it and then I opened two files. I asked for the original and one of the complainant and yours, and I opened it and I called him and I say, you sent me twice the same file. And he said, no, if you look closely here on this side, it’s rounded and mine is a little different. And when it looks the same, it looks the same. So sometimes I have to tell them, listen here, there’s a problem. In many cases, there’s actually something you can do. But in some cases, imagine you’re selling a bottle. Okay, you’ve done an online course. They never told you that you should check patents. That’s not part of the course. So the private labels usually that’s what they do. Right. They choose a product that already exists on Amazon. They did not invent it. They changed it, they try to make it better. So they change the colors or something, but very often they don’t change the shape. And then they go on Amazon, they see 40 other sellers. So they feel it’s fun. Right. And then turns out, there’s a patent on this product. Now, if there’s a patent on this product, it’s not about changing the listing. It’s not about changing the packaging. It’s the product. The product is infringing, right. So sometimes this is what I have to tell them, but then you see-- I will always say, I can see if a person will succeed on Amazon or not. Just by the first conversation I have with them when they infringe something. So you have two types. One of them will say, Oh, wow, what do I do now? And why did-- how come I wasn’t told on the course to do a search and why isn’t the guy responding to me? That’s not right. Why can they remove their complaint? I didn’t do that on purpose. And why and why and why. And then there are the others who are the fighters that I called them. I know those will succeed on Amazon. When that happened, they’re on it. They search and I asked them, let’s try to find something. Maybe there was a patent. The patent wasn’t registered. So let’s try together to find a prior publication. And then they search and then we invalidate that patent. And then we fight together or we do not invalidate, but then we go to the rights owner and we get-- we can negotiate because we have something to negotiate with, right? We can invalidate the patent if we want. So many things that can be done, you can sell it. If it’s infringing in the US, you can sell it in Canada, you can try and get a license. You can do a lot of things, but you should keep fighting. And what’s interesting is that those that learned the hard way, right? Those that have been suspended for patents, then a month later, or two months later, they knock on our door and they say, yeah, I want to-- I have a new design, can we do a patent, can we register a copyrights? What can we do to protect? So you moved from being the infringer to being the rights owner. And when I deal with exits on the second company I’m a partner at. When I deal with exits, I see the importance of intellectual property. Look at IP and the valuation of the business is just higher when you have IP. You can enforce it. You can prevent others from copying you. So moving from being the infringer that got stuck with the stock of 2000 units, to being the one removing other sellers, suddenly they don’t respond to emails. They don’t remove the complaints. So it’s interesting to see how they’re shifting.
Tim Jordan: So right now we’ve talked about seller versus seller, right? So a seller makes a complaint against another seller, but one of the areas that I see a lot of people pretending to be legal experts is when it comes to Amazon themselves, right? You’ve used the term fighting, like fighting for your rights, fighting against infringement, fighting against injustice. And a lot of people are actually fighting against Amazon right now. So we know that recently we’ve seen headlines where as far as I’m concerned, Amazon’s completely guilty of intentionally taking people’s research and taking people’s product ideas. We’ve seen where even Congress and here in the US is involved in investigating Amazon for all sorts of different things. And I think that going back forward entitled a lot of people feel Amazon is the big, bad wolf, right? When in fact Amazon is more like Shrek, lots of layers. There’s a lot of bad, but there’s a lot of good in my opinion. Amazon gives us an opportunity because they built the infrastructure. We have the traffic, we can throw up a listing, optimize it and get 280 million people in the US looking at it. There are some benefits, but I know that Amazon also has a lot of different sides that they play. Right. So if you look at the Amazon flywheel, Jeff Bezos’ famous flywheel. The reason that Amazon does well is it blends a lot of components. They have a great product catalog because they brought in a lot of great sellers, because they brought in a lot of great buyers. The buyers bring the sellers and the sellers bring the catalog, and the catalog brings the buyers. And it’s this big centrifugal wheel. So Amazon also has to make a lot of decisions which are going to hack off different people. Sometimes I make a decision that obviously benefits the buyers. Sometimes it makes a decision which definitely benefits or does not benefit the sellers. So explain to me a little bit about how you see Amazon as being a court, right. And you’ve mentioned before something about Amazon as a court and Jeff Bezos is the Supreme court. And unfortunately, because Amazon has their own terms of service, they have their own platform. They get to make up some of their own rules. So for example, if someone claims an IP infringement against me, legally, if they were wanting some sort of restitution, they would have to take me to an actual court where Amazon gets played by different set of rules. They can say, okay, Tim’s suspended until Tim can prove his innocence. So let’s talk about the court of Amazon. Let’s talk about some of the hot topics that are going on there. And tell me more about this concept of Jeff Bezos being the Supreme court.
Yael Cabilly: Yeah. When you think about Amazon, you need to compare it to other platforms as well. And when I deal with Google, for example, Facebook, when you’re suspended, good luck with that, nobody will get 20 appeals like we do on Amazon. We get sometime cases where the seller has appealed 10 times, 12 times and we can still get him reinstated. So I feel that on the one hand, it’s true that Amazon suspends very quickly, but it’s based on an algorithm. How could they operate without doing that? So you’re suspended by the algorithm, right? But then when you get reinstated, somebody actually reads the appeal. Many of them kind of say, I got a template, nobody reads it. It’s actually not true. Somebody reads it. Although the response is a template, right. If you’re rejected, you’ll get that template. If you’re in, if you’re reinstated, you’ll get another template, but somebody actually reads your appeal. So I feel with Amazon, over the years, I feel it’s the land of endless possibilities. So one is, of course the sale. I have a 23 year old client who sold his business for $5 million. He’s just three years on Amazon. It’s crazy. And when you get suspended, you can file an appeal and another appeal and another appeal. And then you can appeal to the Supreme court of Jeff Bezos, which is the last court. When I deal with-- when I and my team, when we deal with a suspension issue on Amazon, we take it as a legal case. There’s a judge, the judge is the seller performance. And then there’s the Supreme court, which is the de-escalation team of Jeff Bezos. Of course that’s not him. We all know. But this team is very helpful when we feel that the seller performance doesn’t listen or doesn’t understand what we’re saying. So the way we work is we start from the beginning and then we work it up and it reminds me when I was litigating for Nike. Okay. We started in this court and then we went up and up and up on the ladder. So I feel that sellers-- I get it that they’re frustrated. It’s very frustrating to be a five-year seller. And then one day they just shut you off without any warning, anything. Hopefully, and I think that Amazon is getting better in that. It won’t be that sudden. They want to shut it with time, I think that we’re going to get there. I think that Amazon is going to give you a heads up. If you are a seller that listens to notices, you’ll see that very often they tell you. Once they’re suspended clients tell me, Oh yeah, you know what I got a warning about that variation. And then I got it again. But I thought it was okay to just merge them again, or to create a child that Amazon told me not to create. So I recreated it because Amazon didn’t do anything. They didn’t enforce. And so I did it again and again and again. So what if I get 25 notices? They never told me they’re going to suspend me forever. So I think that there’s a balance here. Amazon definitely needs to improve. There are a lot of false alarms and we see that with related accounts. We see that a lot late, especially lately, a lot of people receive a warning that their account is suspended because they’re related to another account that was suspended in the past. And that’s why they cannot sell on Amazon and buy, buy. You cannot-- there’s nothing to do. You try to convince me the chances are very low. So we see a lot of false positive, but very often Amazon these rights and in 95% of the cases, there is something to do here. There’s one thing that I feel, that frustrates me personally. And that’s the holding of the funds. Are you aware of what’s happening there?
Tim Jordan: It’s been about four years, but I was suspended and it was my fault. I was infringing on someone’s IP. We’re talking about, I didn’t know any better. It was an honest mistake. And they ended up holding six figures, six figures, over a hundred thousand dollars for eight weeks until I was able to get reinstated. So I don’t know what the current climate is, what they’re doing, but I have had some serious funds held up.
Yael Cabilly: And you are lucky because you get your money back. So imagine-- what we see lately in the last year, I would say, Amazon’s suspends one of our client. Okay. And then they say that you’re suspended because it’s inauthentic. Please give us the invoices. Right. Prove that you’re selling, you’re not selling counterfeit, prove that you’re selling the right, the original product. Right. So they give the invoice. It’s actually-- I know the client, I know the goods. I know that the goods aren’t counterfeit. So we show the invoices. The invoice is an invoice of, let’s say the official distributor of the brand in Ukraine. Right. So Amazon looks at the invoice. I don’t know the official distributor. I don’t know him. Okay. And then they close the account. The problem is they allow themselves not to give you the funds that are stuck there. And they withhold them forever, not just for six weeks, not for three months, like they used to do. Forever. So we have clients with 100K start there and we have-- so for those, we fight on arbitration, but then we have clients with just 5k, right? Would you take a lawyer? Would you go to an arbitration? Just hiring the lawyer costs more than the funds you have there. How will you fight it yourself? You just let it go. So 5k here and 10K here, and 2000. So we thought that’s a great case for class suits. Right? But turns out you cannot file a class action against Amazon. Have you heard of a class action against Amazon? That doesn’t exist. Why? Because when you signed a terms of service, you actually agreed that everything will go through arbitration, everything except for intellectual property issues that where you can file an actual lawsuit. Everything will go through arbitration and arbitration is not a class action. So you can go to 10 law firms of fast actions. Nobody will take that case because of that clause. So you’re thinking, wow, this is unconstitutional, right?
Tim Jordan: Yeah. I feel like it’s like signing a deal with the devil. We need Amazon, but Amazon, because they built it, they get to make their own rules. Is that common with other businesses? I’ve never heard of this. I didn’t realize that that we’ve eliminated, basically signed away our rights to file a lawsuit. Are there other platforms and businesses that do this?
Yael Cabilly: Yes. Actually all the platforms are now doing it because the Supreme Court of America actually thought that it’s okay to have a clause like that. So now all the market places, everything. Everybody’s doing that. And hopefully it will change, but this will be through legislation or things that won’t be through one seller.
Tim Jordan: So even the sellers whose products were intentionally getting stolen, they can’t sue Amazon.
Yael Cabilly: Yeah. I mean, except for intellectual property, again, you cannot sue Amazon. You can file an arbitration, which is a con. In most cases you actually want to file an arbitration. It’s easier. It’s quicker. It doesn’t cost much. Within three months you’re done. But this is not court.
Tim Jordan: So it’s almost Amazon has positioned themselves to be above the law. Would you agree with that?
Yael Cabilly: Yeah. Especially in regarding the funds, this is something that I take really personally. But yeah, they-- on Amazon, I feel that they make the law and they enforce it. Right. So that can be a problem. Obviously. The arbitration is actually something external. So at least you have a judge and most arbitrations are actually fine. But when it comes to $5,000, you won’t go to arbitration. That’s where the problem is. That’s where I feel that something needs to change and I’m acting on it, but hopefully something will happen.
Tim Jordan: Wow. That is so crazy. I’m writing down notes. Cause this is stuff I’ve never heard of. It’s pretty wild. So where do you think things go from here? When it comes to consumer protection and consumers being us to sellers, being able to protect ourselves from Amazon? Do you think that sellers form unions? Do you think that legislation changes Amazon’s ability to, for example, not be wrapped up in a class action lawsuit or what is like 2021 look like from a legal perspective potential changes coming in with Amazon?
Yael Cabilly: 2021? Not sure. Maybe in a few years there will be a union and things won’t happen. Maybe there will be other platforms that will be stronger, um, so that they won’t be able to do anything they want. Right. We don’t know when you try, if you read in, when you speak with the community, nobody really wants to fight Amazon because there, somebody told me once, it’s like a boss, but the mean boss, right? I mean, this is where you get the money from and you get nice money, but then they’re really mean, and they try to fire you all the time.
Tim Jordan: Yeah, they’re always threatening to fire you, but they’re paying you so good. You can’t afford to just walk away and leave and just take the abuse.
Yael Cabilly: And they always expect-- sellers expect that when they’re larger or when they kind of bring money to Amazon, things will not happen, but the algorithm is still there. And so if you’re infringing, you may be the largest Amazon seller. But if someone files a complaint against you for trademark infringement, you’re gone you can beat the top. We work with the top 50 sellers. We have one of the top 50, top 60, top 70. I can tell you, they get suspended. Some of them have 60 to 70 copyright or trademark infringement at the time we’re speaking now. They’re not-- they won’t get entirely suspended. Their account is not easily suspended because of the algorithm. So Amazon does accept that they are large seller and they won’t shut down everything so quickly. But the listing will be suspended. This is how it works. And Amazon does not look at how much money they get from that listing. That’s something that I get a lot. They look at the customers at the end. They’re customer obsessed, right? This is what business is all the time.
Tim Jordan: Let me ask you about another legal, another set of legal implications. All right. And this is something that I didn’t think I was going to ask. And now it’s kind of popped in my head, I want to know. We’re talking about responsibility. We’ve talked about entitlement, we’ve talked about protection. One of the areas that’s become a hot topic recently in conversations that I’m seeing all across the board is the area of misinformation, right? Misrepresentation. And this is coming from people and you’ve already mentioned it that have a course. People that are acting as consultants and giving mad information. And I’ll give a little bit of background reasons, kind of fresh in my mind right now. And it has to do with suspensions. Are you familiar with the dynasty toys brand? You need to go research this. This is something that right now, as we’re recording, this is popping up as a very, very big example or maybe case studies coming up. But essentially there was an audience leader out there that was promoting an investment opportunity. Invest in this brand that we’re selling on Amazon, you’ll get a return. It’s going to be great. Yada, yada, yada, and all these people just took word for it. They were probably, majority of them were inexperienced enough where they didn’t understand the implications. They didn’t understand what’s going to happen. And this brand, while trying to rank this listing, ranked this ASIN that they had millions of dollars. I presume invested in, they were doing some black hat things, right? Whether it’s review solicitation, whether it’s ranking an algorithm manipulation. And in just in the past two weeks, I’ve seen a lot of people that are getting suspended specifically referenced to this brand. You’re involved in this, you’re suspended, you’re suspended. From what I can see, there is no appeal. This is one of those, like you’re done, don’t even try to appeal your way out. Who’s responsible for that? Do you think that the seller who invested in this brand and started buying this product and letting someone else try to rank it is responsible? Do you think that the influencer that was pushing this should be responsible? And do you think that Amazon even cares that somebody was manipulating, somebody give them this information, or do they only look at the specific relationship between the seller and Amazon? In a situation like that who’s fault is it? Do you think that the seller is a victim or do you think that it’s their fault for not doing their due diligence and learning before they threw money at this and got wrapped up in something they shouldn’t have?
Yael Cabilly: It’s a good question then. I asked myself a lot, but I think that the courses now are trying to get better even the mentors and the gurus. And they were trying to get better, not because they often absolutely care to tell you, honestly, it depends. Some of them are amazing courses and some are less, they’re getting better because they understand their liability. So if you have a course and you do not teach that you need to check compliance, you need to check patents, you need to check trademarks. And you don’t mean to mention that. And you just tell people, go ahead, just copy the product. What’s the problem? Just copy the paper plate. And sell it on Amazon, you can be liable. Okay. You can be liable indirectly or directly. So with time, I actually see a change. We’re invited to speak about IP and it’s not because of my blue eyes or because people like me. It’s because people want to protect themselves. So, I try to educate as much as I can, but I see that, with time everybody tries to educate and people are understanding it’s a new industry, right? I mean, the whole thing of private label, when I started at the end of 2015, it just started, I mean, people were like a year or two or three into the thing of FBA. And now we’re just five years later. It’s nothing, it’s a new industry. A lot of things are new, right? A lot of things are just understood too late and understood because of mistakes that people are doing. I think that people should take responsibility and should not trust anybody. One of the things we see the most is people who go to the seller support and ask for legal help. And then they-- it’s very naive, right? I mean, going to the calling the seller support and asking, can I sell this product? Is it the infringing on the patent? I see something about a pending patent. Is it okay if I sell it? And then the guy from the seller suppose like, yeah, no problem. And they write it, yes. You can sell it. There’s no patent infringement. What happens once they’re suspended? What happens? Amazon say, yeah, it’s your responsibility, sorry. Sorry for that email or sorry for that advice. So for patent, it’s funny, but with variations, also people rely on seller support and I would do it too. I would ask the seller support is that, is this variation okay? Is it not? But the truth is it’s actually complicated. Most sellers don’t know what an okay variation is and what’s an illegal variation. So the seller support doesn’t know neither. Right. But the best way to learn is actually to read, sit and read the terms of service. I explain a lot about it. I explain a lot of what to avoid. It’s actually pretty simple. Once you know it, you make no mistakes, but you need to read about it. And what’s of the sellers do whatever they feel and they see others. Everybody in my category does this, so probably it’s fine. Right. But there’s a difference between being illegal and not being enforced. Right. So the guy that was suspended for patents, the guy that was suspended for an illegal variation, yes, there are 40 other doing the same thing, but you got caught. I mean, you got caught. It’s not-- it doesn’t help me to tell Amazon, you should reinstate me because the others are still here. With Amazon will tell you, thank you for reporting about the others. We’ll take care of them, but we cannot reinstate you because this variation is illegal. So if there’s something I want to tell seller is never trust the seller support, right? Never trust the seller support and do your own checks and try to be as thorough as you can. You cannot do everything. Every seller does mistakes, right. But try to participate in webinars, in masterminds. If you go and listen to all of them, one hour class about IP, I promise you, if you listen to it, you minimize the risk by like 70%, maybe 80 or 90% even, if I’m not cautious. Most of the IP problems that you do can be avoided.
Tim Jordan: Got it. This is a lot to take in. And I know we’ve covered a lot of different topics. I had no idea that Amazon, you couldn’t sue, but I think it’s interesting that basically what you said about educators in this space are liable. They can be liable if an educator, if a course out there gives bad information, they can definitely be held liable for that. And I think that a lot of sellers are just starting to come to grips with that as a reality. And I think that’s good for the industry because it’s going to put the burden on educators to make sure they know what they’re talking about. And it’s going to weed out a lot of the bad apples and hopefully eliminate a lot of the mistakes that are costly. Thank you for sharing all this. This is really interesting to hear your perspective from a legal point of view, I know that there’s a lot of other legal discussions and legal opinions that we could carry on a conversation with regarding Amazon, especially everything that’s going on in the news right now in the press. I think that 20-- the year 2020 is such a dumpster fire on so many counts that a lot of the stuff that would be big headlines right now aren’t. I think it’s going to be interesting as we move into 2021 and get through this Q4 to see where different accountability is upheld and where different liability is placed between sellers, sellers. But I think the main takeaway, even you agree with it is I think that sellers have to do their due diligence. Sellers need to learn. We can’t always blame someone else. We can’t have that entitled perception of, Oh, it’s not my fault. This shouldn’t have happened to me. I don’t deserve this. This is still a business. It’s not a cheat. It’s not a life hack. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. This is a business. And although it’s positioned differently than that, sometimes we need to remember that this is something that we have to take responsibility for ultimately, and put in the work and get our own education. Would you agree with that?
Yael Cabilly: I agree with that. I think that education is the key. I actually completely a hundred percent understand sellers that listen to the course and say exactly what they tell them to do. They actually try to go by the book and I feel that in 90% of the cases, that’s actually not their fault. But on the other hand, I try as much as I can to warn and if they listen, and if they’re around the community, if they’re on Facebook and they see the posts, then I hope that with time, they’ll know what to look for. And I hope that at the beginning, during that first podcast or first YouTube video that they saw about selling an Amazon, it will be there, hopefully in a year or two, but it will be there and they’ll avoid all that mess that could be avoided.
Tim Jordan: Sure. Well, thank you so much for being on. I know we’re about the end of our time. We’ll wrap it up. If someone wanted to get ahold of you, what’s the best way to get in contact with you or your team?
Yael Cabilly: On Facebook, Yael Cabilly. Or by email it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Jordan: Yeah. And for those of you that are watching this on YouTube, check the show notes below, and while you’re checking the show notes for those links, make sure to hit that like button, smash that subscribe button. Hit the share button, share this on one of your social platforms if you feel like this has been valuable to you. Yael, thank you so much for being on. I know that you and I have some other discussions that we need to wrap up with some stuff maybe coming up in the future, which will be advantageous to sellers, and going to be hitting you up for more content to share with the community. So thank you for being on. Thank you all for listening. We’ll see you all on the next episode.
Yael Cabilly: Thanks for having me. Thank you.