Selling Sports Products On Amazon: How To Avoid Suspension

By Robert Segall and CJ Rosenbaum, Esq., Amazon Sellers Lawyer


With Super Bowl LI just over and the Patriots having accomplished the greatest come back in history, Amazon Sellers have to take what they learned from the rash of NFL suspensions and use the information to make business decisions going forward.

Amazon Sellers know that any major event creates an opportunity to capitalize on sales of related novelty items. The Super Bowl is no exception. NFL products like jerseys, t-shirts, hats, etc., sold incredibly quickly during Super Bowl season. However, selling NFL products also lead to many suspensions for very reputable and hard working sellers.


NFL Products and Amazon Distribution Agreement

What is tricky with selling NFL products on Amazon is Distribution Agreements. Amazon seemed to want to make sure that anyone selling NFL products was licensed to do so by the NFL. What is interesting though, is that:

  1. Amazon knew there were little or no licensing agreements between the NFL and anyone to sell on the Amazon platform, and;
  2. Amazon typically does not enforce Selective Distribution Agreements.

Per Amazon’s policy:

“We do not enforce … Exclusive or Selective Distribution: Amazon respects a manufacturer’s right to enter into exclusive distribution agreements for its products. However, violations of such agreements do not constitute intellectual property rights infringement. As the enforcement of these agreements is a matter between the manufacturer and the retailers, it would not be appropriate for Amazon to assist in enforcement activities.”


Amazon Sellers and The NFL

Amazon Branded Products

The NFL (and the MLB) are the exceptions to this policy.  We do not know if there will be others.

Back in April of 2016, the NFL announced that if online retailers including Amazon and eBay did not enforce their exclusive distribution agreements, that the NFL would in turn ban those platforms from the sale of NFL products altogether.

“If the NFL determines that a [licensed] distributor or retailer has violated this prohibition, the NFL will restrict sales of any NFL products by any NFL licensee to that distributor or retailer.” Amazon took this announcement seriously and suspended countless unauthorized NFL sellers.

Now that this year’s Super Bowl is over, and, hopefully, the suspensions targeting NFL sellers will dissipate,  what can Amazon Sellers do to avoid account suspensions in the future.

The bottom line is, be careful before any items relating to major sports events. What may seem like a great idea can quickly cause you to lose an ASIN or suffer a suspension if the NFL, MLB, NCAA, NHL or other league or organization has not authorized you to sell their products.

It is unknown whether Amazon will look to suspend accounts selling other league’s products like it did with NFL sellers.


Tips For Amazon Sellers

  • Make decisions to sell or not sell major league branded products deliberately.  If the items are big money makers, then they may be worth the risk.  If they do not earn you substantial money, consider the risk of account suspension before you list the items.
  • If you are selling products that are similar to official NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA or other  products (like jerseys or hats), make sure your product detail page clearly states and describes that the item is NOT an NFL branded product.
  • If you are selling in the Sports Collectibles store, make sure that your item is authenticated and or graded by a third-party company approved by Amazon. See Category, Product, and Listing Restrictions.
  • Save your invoices and only source your goods from licensed distributors.