Amazon trademark protection removes listing over ‘3m’ keyword

Amazon trademark protection have started removing listings, as a result of the ‘incorrect‘ use of product description keywords. In the instance, it has been brought to our attention that a 3m cable listing has been removed on the grounds that 3m is a brand name.

While, keywords such an Apple, Chapstick and Band-Aid must be avoided for use in products’ titles, due to the trademark infringement reasons, it appears that generic terms like ‘3m’ are best to shy away from too. So suggests a seller from Amazon, who wants to remain anonymous, when talking about a recent experience with Amazon Spain.

‘A ridiculous situation’ is the phrase the merchant used when summarising how Amazon Spain removed a large volume of product listings for using a ‘3m’ keyword to describe the items’ offering.

The merchant says that Amazon’s prohibition of descriptive language makes it impossible for customers to understand the products his business sells. As he said:

We are having ASIN’s removed, not just our offer blocked but the product detail page removed from the site due to alleged inappropriate use of brand/trademark in keyworks used in titles and/or descriptions. In this case, we are having a large number of listings removed for simply having the keyword ‘3m’ in the title and/or description with Amazon saying this is a brand/trademark and we cannot use it. This is ridiculous because we sell cables and as a result, a large number of them say 3m simply to advise the length of the cable as 3m.
– Amazon merchant

Speaking to Tamebay, the seller explained what he has done to resolve the problem – he opened a case with Amazon to ask why the products’ listings were removed. However, giving a response that doesn’t line up with the situation, Amazon possibly had their agenda to serve. According to the marketplace’s explanation, the seller breached “intellectual property rights of others” by using ‘3m’ a brand name. Commenting on Amazon’s response, the merchant noted that ‘3m’ was only used in the title description of the products.

We removed your listings because of concerns that your product may not respect the intellectual property right of others. We see that the product sold by you currently have an invalid Brand Name. Please update the complete/correct Brand name. You are listing ‘3M’ licensed products with an unlicensed brand. ‘3M’ products can only be listed by licensed brands. Please know that you may be subject to additional approvals depending on the brand name.”
– Amazon seller support

It is not only the lack of clarity Amazon gives to sellers’ when removing their products “for no [valid] reason,” which frustrates the seller, but also the inability to promote products.

What if someone registers 1m, 2m, 5m, 10m, etc as trademarks? Will we have all our listings removed simply for describing the length of cable to customers? Amazon are saying the ASIN’s will only be reinstated if we remove 3m from the title/descriptions. But this cannot be done as we need to inform the customers of the items length in an industry standard way and using 3m is, of course, the expected method.”
– Amazon merchant

We’ve currently only heard about this situation happening on Amazon Spain but it could start to impact merchants on other Amazon country sites.

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The simple solution to this would be to write the word 'metres' instead of just using an 'm' ? (Although a ridiculous situation anyway. If 3M is a registered trademark (I haven't checked), then it will be probably only for a capital 'M' not a lowercase 'm' - and this makes a difference, according to the UK Trademark Office. But try explaining that to 'computer says "no", Amazon'. )

Ian • 24th January 2019 •

Additionally “3M” who manufacture adhesive tape products, would need an actual Trademark classification covering whichever category “AV Cables” and the like are sold in. A brand can’t claim rights to a Trademark if it doesn’t have the classifications for that specific category. I’ve not checked but I wasn’t aware that “3M” manufactured AV Cables, or were they ever planning on doing so and hence I would be surprised that their Trademark protection is even is the same category classifications as the stated seller’s products thereby making any such claims completely false and without merit.

Jay • 24th January 2019 •

This is just incorrect, 3M produces the following and more: "The company produces a variety of products, including adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, personal protective equipment, window films, paint protection films, dental and orthodontic products, electronic materials, medical products, car-care products,[3] electronic circuits, healthcare software and optical films." It's not just tape you uneducated baboon.

Ben • 25th January 2019 •

We are still waiting to hear back from Amazon about Route 66 charms that are trademarked - copyrighted, whatever you want to classify it as. I thought, no it couldn't possibly be. When you look into it, they are correct. Even though it would be perfectly legal in the USA as the trademark application was kicked out, in Europe, a company registered it and now items with Route 66, in the shape of the classic shield, are removed. I appealed last year twice, but never heard back from amazon and the item is still blocked. Having a proper conversation with Amazon is nigh on impossible. I suppose it's a bit like talking to God. Or are they one in the same.

Simon E • 24th January 2019 •

Is it April 1st? This is crazy. Everyone uses "3m" to mean 3 metres. Also, If you want to sell a still life painting of an apple, you're in trouble!

Gareth Williams • 25th January 2019 •

When listing a "Pumpkin Coach" silver charm. We had it blocked on Ebay. Eventually, they saw that it was not the "Coach" brand (that I had never heard of) and allowed it. We still have an issue with a "North Korea - South Korea" charm. I think ebay say that it's because of embargo of North Korea, although I have never really looked into it. You do get them now and again "Crescent Wrench" charm was in violation of trademark. We had to rename to Wrench. You learn as you go along. Some names are immortalised in the item, like vacuum cleaner that most call a hoover. A stove is a brand name. A few years back we got into trouble for listing a Mizpah charm. Even though it's an ancient religious term - name, someone has trademarked it. So you cannot sell an item of jewellery with the word in it, without having some deal with the trademark holder. When you start looking at the trademark catalogues, it's frightening that one day everything will be trademarked.

Simon E • 25th January 2019 •

might 3 "metre" or 300cm solve the problem"

jim • 25th January 2019 •

Depends on what the buyer searches for. All well and good changing the name to fit ebay, but if the buyer does not use the word, then it may not come up in ebay's own results for the search.

mw • 25th January 2019 •

ebay search is not a good example a buyer could search for apples on ebay and get pumkins search terms mean nothing, or anything ,or change by the minute on ebay

jim • 25th January 2019 •

3.0 M? Or perhaps the incorrect 3m.? Hopefully the application for and granting of Trademaks will begin to consider the complication of describing other items if use of “Brand” names is not allowed. Unintentional complications such as this bring challenges to the use of language. How likely is it that a company would apply for a name that would bring notoriety to their product strictly because of the manner in which it complicates language? I am sure that being disruptive would be viewed as a positive attribute by some corporation. I understand Trademark enforcement of the brand name Velcro, a name that has entered into language to mean hook and loop to most people, The general use of this specific word would not have occurred in our culture if the company had not branded themselves by this name. They built the brand and deserve to be able to protect it. 3m is a more nuanced situation, do they deserve protection when their name also describes a accepted & common short form? What about “Apple”? That’s a huge one. “Route 66”? Yes, the culturally significant name has been trademarked and this has been enforced. I think that one crossed a line. Language is dynamic, it changes in ways we do not always predict. I for one won’t be selling any “3m” “Chord”s for “Hoover”s with “Velcro” attached for storage

Paul Kimberley • 25th January 2019 •

There are tons of trademarks registered under the company and you can find them all on the IPO website. But this one particularly is interesting: It basically covers use of 3M in ALL goods classes! So Amazon is correct in removing them from listings as 3M owns the trademark and it's their right to protect it. If someone is to blame then it's the IPO who registers such trademarks in first place!

Andrew Minalto • 28th January 2019 •

@Andrew Milton Obviously, this trademark covers the "3M"-logo only, not the wording. "Type: Figurative"

Frank • 28th January 2019 •

Funnily enough I've been a reseller of a 3M product line for years, always advertised on Amazon with 3M in the product title. Never been asked to provide any proof of authenticity.

Peter King • 28th January 2019 •