Ethical Business Practices or Amazon?
It is because of Amazon.com and Yesterloonow’s apparent collusion above, and Amazon.com’s refusal to support and protect the legal owners of IP – something smaller companies than Amazon.com seem to have no problem doing – that Why We Are Vegan was forced to pull all t-shirts and associated artwork from Amazon.com.
A month ago Why We Are Vegan sought to sell t-shirts on Amazon.com in hope of being able to donate a significant portion of the proceeds from those sales to not-for-profits that came to the company’s attention that were in need of financial support. It was not Why We Are Vegan’s expectation that t-shirt sales would result in a windfall by any means; t-shirts were just one way this new company could help them and show support for the wonderful work they do for not just the animals they rescue and care for, but also the people who are touched by and positively impacted by their good works.
However, what was not expected – having both trademark and copyright infringement enabled by a corporation supporting and making a profit off a pirate company – and all in less than 2 weeks after the artwork was uploaded to and t-shirt styles and colors selected for sale through Merch by Amazon on the Amazon.com site. After 8 days of phone and email attempts to get in touch with Amazon’s legal department, file a fraud report, request that the illegal product be pulled from the site, and then taking it to social media to try and get some type of effective human response from the corporation, to date, Amazon.com has done nothing but consistently lie (seller and customer service departments) and stall (emails claiming forms submitted were incomplete).
Amazon.com enables internet pirates like a company called Yesterloonow to steal original trademarked and copywritten artwork, put it on their products, and sell on Amazon.com as their own, using both the stolen trademarked company name and the copywritten artwork as they wish.
This directly impacts all artists and business owners who have spent time and money not only to produce their unique art; it also impacts their ability to sell products using their name and artwork. Why Amazon.com insists on enabling pirate companies to steal from their direct clients is baffling, given that this appears to have been going on for quite some time.
Amazon.com, however, does not protect or enable their invited (Merch by Amazon is an invite-only sales proposition) sole proprietorships and small businesses to:
- Contact a human being from Amazon.com who can help them report IP infringement and other illegal activity;
- Have access to a form with ALL needed fields present so that, when businesses fill out and submit the only form evidently made available to merchants, a pre-filled rejection is automatically generated and kicked back to merchant; and,
- A merchant’s trademark legal counsel to speak with their legal department on their behalf – again, Amazon.com doesn’t seem to want their merchants to speak with human beings from Amazon.
In fact, Amazon.com appears to count on artists and small companies not having the money or energy to get back what was legally their to begin with.
How does this impact artists, merchants, and their potential customers?
- A pirate company is able to falsely represent artists and merchants to customers;
- When customers seek to purchase from and support the artists and merchants they like on Amazon.com, they are being misled to believe that their purchases:
- belong to the artist/merchant they like and want to support;
- the pirate company takes money directly from the artist/merchant and/or NPF or other cause they wish to support with a percentage of or 100% of the proceeds from those sales;
- sub-par quality product is purchased by consumers who expect better from the real artists/companies that actually own the original artwork and company names, therefore drastically lessening consumer confidence in their brand;
- Amazon.com is double-dipping re: their own take of sales by letting pirate companies sell using stolen IP
- Small businesses seeking to build a following are having the following misled and diluted by Amazon.com and the pirate companies like Yesterloonow that Amazon.com lets sell whatever they wish no matter who it hurts because Amazon.com makes a substantial profit no matter who is selling what on their site.
If you see anything with the Why We Are Vegan name, not limited to t-shirts, for sale on the internet, that is not being directly promoted on the Why We Are Vegan website and Why We Are Vegan social media, they have not been authorized by Why We Are Vegan or artist Gabrielle Hewson to use the trademarked Why We Are Vegan name or her original artwork.
If you were the creator of original artwork, the owner of a start-up business and name you recently spent a lot of money to trademark, how would you feel if a Amazon.com was stealing from you, making a profit off you and the thieves, and misleading your supporters and customers?
Please share this with every artist and small business you know as a community service to prevent them from having to go through what Why We Are Vegan and Gabrielle Hewson did. To date, Amazon.com has not and apparently will not respond with a phone call from a human being with knowledge, care and station to pull the illegal product off their site and prevent Yesterloonow from selling illegal product on Amazon.com. It appears conscience and ethical business practices – and the Golden Rule – are not in Amazon.com’s or its representative corporate make-up.