What to Do If You Receive a Letter or Email Saying You Can’t Sell it Online

What to Do If You Receive a Letter or Email Saying You Can’t Sell it Online

Posted by Big Brand on 19th Nov 2020

Receiving any kind of legal letter can be super scary especially when the letter threatens legal action being taken against you, yikes! But don’t panic, here’s what you need to know:

If the letter was received via regular mail, meaning you are literally holding the paper letter while you read this blog post, the letter is most likely legitimate, but, if you received the letter via email and it’s sketchy looking, do some research because it could be someone messing with you (yes, seriously!). A real email from a real lawyer will likely not come from a gmail or yahoo account. A real lawyer will have contact information in the email and an address for their practice. If the lawyer is legitimate you should be able to look them up online and confirm, through their website, that they specialize in Trademark / Copyright / Business Law or similar. The contact information in the email should match the contact information on the lawyers website or linkedin.

So, assuming you feel the letter is 100% legitimate, the next step is to thoroughly READ the letter:

Does it say “Stop selling our products” or does it say “Stop selling our products ON AMAZON”?

Does it say “Stop selling our products” or does it say “Stop using our copyrighted material to sell our products”?

Does it say “Stop selling our products” or does it say “Stop violating the Terms of your Contract with our company”?

The letter should also very clearly tell you what the Brand Holder wants you to do. So let’s now discuss why you received the letter and what to do:

If you read our previous blog post called Can I Sell it Without Permission, you already know that the Supreme Court has ruled that, essentially, “If you own it, you can sell it”. So the brand holder doesn’t really have the right to say “You can't sell this at all, ever, even though you bought it off the clearance rack at Big Lots”, because the Supreme Court has ruled against this, however there are situations in which the Brand Holder is correct. Here’s some of those situations and how to fix the problem:

Letter says “Stop Selling on Amazon- This marketplace is unique because they allow brands to decide what can’t be sold on their site (Read our Complete List of Amazon Restricted Brands). When you created your Amazon Seller account you entered into a contract with Amazon and, in that contract, you agreed to all of their Terms. So if the letter you received says to “Remove the Listings from Amazon”, it does NOT mean you can’t sell the merchandise. It means you need to stop selling them ON AMAZON.COM. Because you agreed to this contact when you made your Amazon Seller Account, the contact is higher than the Supreme Court Ruling, so you must abide by the contract.  People often think that a "contract" means that you signed papers and mailed them off.  However, a contract is as simple as clicking the "I agree to Terms" box on a website. A virtual contract is a contract nonetheless. 

Simple Solution: Remove the listings on Amazon and sell the merchandise on eBay, Poshmark or somewhere else.

Letter says “Stop Using Copyrighted Material” - if you are:

  • using the brand holders logo
  • using the brand holders product images without permission
  • copying the brand holders Descriptions
  • or if your screen name is “RolexWholesaler2020” and you are not an actual wholesaler of Rolex products because you buy them from the local pawn shop

The Brand Holder is correct, you need to remove their copyrighted material from your site or listings. Unless the Brand Holder gave you permission to use their material for your listings, you are wrong and need to fix the problem.

Simple Solution: Remove the Brand Holders stuff from your listings and keep the listings up. This means you need to take your own photos, write your own descriptions and change your screen name to “WatchesForLess2020”.

Letter says “Stop Violating the Contract” - every company has a different contract. For example, our contact with M*CYS says we are not allowed to type their full name, hence the reason we call it M*CYS. You will see other sellers call them MCY. Whereas our contact with N*RDSTR*M says we can’t type their name and the specific name brand they own have to be de-labeled. Some companies require you to sell merchandise at a specific price. Some companies say you must remove the paper store tags. Some contracts even say the merchandise must be sold outside of the USA only. Every contract is completely different, so if the letter says you are violating the contract the letter should also say what you are doing that is in violation. If it doesn’t state what you are doing wrong:

Simple Solution: Ask the lawyer to provide you with a new copy of the contract or reread your copy. You can also ask the lawyer to explain specifically what you are doing wrong. He / She should be able to tell you “Section 4.A. of the contract says (whatever) and you are not doing it”

Letter says “You Agreed Not to Sell it” - well did you???? I once bought two purses from the Coach Outlet at the same time. They made me sign a contract at the cash register stating that I would not be reselling the two bags. They even asked for my drivers license and wrote my license number on the contract. I was 100% fine with this because one bag was for my sister and one was for my mother for Christmas. BUT if I would have rushed home and listed them on eBay, I could be in a world of trouble!

I believe companies like Mary Kay and such also have you sign an agreement not to resell your purchase, however I haven’t bought through a company like that in forever so it might be different now.

Anyways, if you agreed NOT TO SELL IT, you can’t sell it! Give it as a gift or keep it for yourself.  Technically you could gift it to someone else and they could sell it; while this may help you offload a small quantity of items, this is not effective for large quantities.  All that will end up happening is that the person you gifted it to will start being harassed by the brand holder.  


Any lawyer can send a legal demand to anyone for any reason or no reason at all. Just because the lawyer is “demanding” you do something doesn’t mean you MUST. For example, lets say you bought 30 pieces of Loreal makeup off the clearance rack at Walgreens and weeks later you get a letter from Loreals legal department stating you can’t sell their products online. In this case, Loreal is wrong, and their lawyer knows they can’t enforce this but they’re hoping you listen and remove your listings. However, since you have never signed a contract with Loreal and you bought the 30 pieces fair-and-square from Walgreens, you are allowed to sell them on eBay, Craigslist, etc.


If you have read and read and re-read the letter and still don’t get it, just politely ask.


If the letter is total B.S, and you are 110% sure you never signed any contract, and if you are 100% sure the place you are selling the merchandise says you can sell that merchandise, then you shouldn’t do anything. You might receive another letter or three in the future. Save the letters.

If you’re pretty sure you’re not doing anything wrong but you're not 100% sure, it’s best to error on the side of judgement. If the letter is asking you not to sell it on Amazon, just take it off Amazon. If the letter is asking you not to sell it anywhere, at all, and if you have a lot of money tied up in the merchandise you should contact a lawyer through Avvo - it’s a wonderful website for totally free legal advice and it will pair you with local lawyers in your area, with no commitment. BUT if you want the lawyer you pick to review the letter in full you should expect to pay $200 - $2,500. MAKE SURE YOU PICK A LAWYER THAT SPECIALIZES IN THIS FIELD. You don’t want a slip-and-fall lawyer or real estate guy.

If you discover that you are in the wrong because you are indeed making the mistake that was identified in the letter, correct the issue then respond to the lawyer to let him know that you fixed the problem. Thank him for taking the time to point out your mistake and giving you time to correct it, Most lawyers are actually super, super nice despite sounding scary in the letter. Once the issue is fixed you will likely drop off their radar.

On the other hand, if you just completely ignore the letter you should expect that you could end up being sued, and the last thing you want is to be sued by a massive name brand with massive money and full-time lawyers. You could end up spending $100,000 to deal with inventory that cost you $2,000. It simply isn’t worth it.  

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