All things Shopify and commerce
We have been in business for over two years using the Shopify POS. As if running an online retail store during an international pandemic is hard enough, we have been repeatedly threatened by Shopify to have our store shut down for not being authorized resellers. However, we are 100% within our rights to sell anything we want, per United States Code: Title 17. Copyrights. We have explained this on numerous occasions, but recently they have gone too far and completely shut down our store. They have also promised/threatened to completely erase all of our store data and online presence within 5 days if we do not remove all of our trademarked products. Which would be our entire store. We are a discount retailer, who promises name-brand, quality products to our customers. I checked with my attorney before ever starting this store to make sure it was legal. And to our credit, if Shopify had a problem with what we were doing, they should have shut us down two years ago. Before we invested so much time and money. Well over $500,000 to be exact. Now they want to remove 7,000+ products, 17,000+ photos and well written product descriptions. They can't keep doing this to people, taking livelihoods with the click of a mouse. Please contact me ASAP at Jennifer at bidandbuydeals dot com. They have also been keeping a payout from us for over two years, for reasons that always change whenever I talk to them.
They cannot keep destroying stores that take so much time and money to build. Please reach me and I will share my plan.
Thank you for posting your situation to the Shopify community forums. This is definitely an unfortunate situation and I do empathize with how this can effect your business and livlihood.
While I would not be able to comment on the legalities surrounding copyright law and your legal right to sell trademarked products, I can speak to Shopify's Terms of Service, and Acceptable Use Policy. Unfortunately, it sounds like you received some bad legal advice, as your lawyer should have been aware that your store needs to be in line with Shopify's Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy to remain in good standing. While you technically might be able to legally sell a certain product in the United States, that does not grant you the right to sell said product via Shopify.
For example, you cannot sell trademarked products without a reseller's license on the Shopify platform. Shopify's AUP states:
6.Intellectual property: You may not offer goods or services, or post or upload Materials, that infringe on the copyright or trademarks of others.
I defintely appreciate and agree this would have been beneficial to be resolved two years ago, sometimes we are not aware of a store's actions until it is reported. While we do our best to prevent this situation as soon as possible to lessen the burden on all parties, sometimes stores slip through the cracks. In your situation, it sounds as though Shopify was unaware until recently when we requested the prodcuts to be removed.
In regards to your payout, while I would love to assist you with that, I do not have access to your store's specific information. Due to our strict authentication policy, you will need to reach out to our live advisors to assist you with your missing payout.
Please visit our Help Center and log in to your account to create a support request through live chat, email, or callback. Once you have logged in to your account, type your request in 'Ask about a topic', scroll down to 'Get Support', and then click 'Continue.' You will then see the support options available to you.
I want to be sure that users of Shopify know exactly what is happening to me and my store, so they can prepare in case something like this happens to them. Here is the response I sent back to Skye via email. I am being bullied by a large corporation that will not take accountability for their actions. It is a tale as old as time, but it does not have to continue. Large companies should take responsibility and start doing the right thing!
Skye, while your email makes good points you are incorrect on some important factors. These factors are why I have a very strong case against Shopify and will be pursuing reimbursement to the fullest extent of the law if my store gets shut down permanently. I keep very good, honest books so I can account for at least 90% of the expenses related to creating and operating my online store. I know, little ‘ole me is not much of a threat against a large corporation such as yourself. But if I recruit all the other business owners that have been irreparably damaged by Shopify, well that will get noticed. Telling the world might sound implausible for one person to do, but sit back and see. This is not about ego. Ego fights are short-lived because most people, including myself, calm down after a certain time period and the ‘fight’ doesn’t have the same steam. This is about principle. This is about a big bully corporation not taking accountability for their actions, but absolutely making us be accountable for ours. Regardless of the role you have played.
Important Factor #1: Shopify has been aware of my business practices since the inception of my online store (July 2020). Not only that, but due to the actions and communication from Shopify, it was apparent to me that I was doing nothing that warranted my store to be shut down. In November of 2020 my right to use Shopify Pay was removed because I was selling brand-name items in my store. Mind you, I was not asked to remove a single product by Shopify. I was told I would no longer have the Shopify Pay option and I had to seek a different credit card processor. In October 2021 (almost exactly one year later) I received an email from the risk management department about the name brand items I was selling in my store. I responded with proof that I have the right to resell name brand products, not just by federal statute but also the means in which I acquired my goods. The vendors of the products I have listed on my store are well aware of how I and many others receive their goods to sell how we please. I was told by the Shopify risk-management department, “Thank you for your attention to this matter. No further action is required at this time.” Of course, after receiving this email, I went about my business as usual. If that is not permission to proceed, then I do not know what is! You and the rest of the Shopify risk-management and legal owes me a very detailed explanation, to my face, how they can respond this way in October of last year, and then shut my store down eight months later.
Important Factor #2: The rule you provide: “You may not offer goods or services, or post or upload Materials, that infringe on the copyright or trademarks of others”, is ambiguous as the day is long. How am I infringing on the copyright or trademark of others when I am selling my personal property? As someone who creates custom products, I am fully aware that once the product leaves my hands, I have lost control. The new owner can resell it, destroy it, cherish it for years… I know they cannot say that they are the original creator, which is not what we are doing at all. We do not offer the manufacturer’s warranties, we do not state that we are the manufacturer. We are doing what millions of people around the world are doing, trying to make a living selling products or some extra money on the side.
Important Factor #3: The goods I purchase to be sold in my store are from auction retailers such as Liquidation.com, BStock, etc. This firm receives goods from the vendors to be auctioned to the highest bidder. These goods are not stolen, nor is the final end goal of those purchasing the goods a mystery. In the time we have opened our store we have had only two, maybe three complaints from vendors. Although we are within our rights, we did remove their products as a professional courtesy. How can we be infringing on these vendors when they are putting their items up for auction for resellers?
Last month I was frustrated that I have not received a payout that is almost two years old, because my account had nothing showing telling me WHY. There were not any notes or directions that they were missing documentation. First Shopify said they were missing some business documentation from me. Really? I am sure I would never have been allowed to proceed with my store if I had forgotten some documentation. Nonetheless I played along. I did not hear anything for two+ weeks! Then the next thing I know my store is kaput and I am being asked to provide attestation that I am an authorized reseller of well over 300 different name brands I sell in my store. I think your executives should call Jeff Probst and offer contestants training because ya’ll have BLINDSIDING DOWN.
Given these facts, I believe I have “an iron-clad” case Skye. Shopify has known since I started my online store what type of store I have.
I am having my controller Jennifer Morriss compile the expenditures related directly to my online store. As I am sure you know, it takes about two years for a start-up to gain a solid footing and start showing a profit. Of course COVID disrupted this once-reliable business guesstimate. It has been very difficult keeping our doors open, even being a discount retailer. Covid or no Covid our sales are increasing and our customer base is growing. We are finally seeing a difference. My team and I had tears when we read the message that everything we have worked so hard for might be erased from existence. 7,000+ products, 17,000+ photos. Ineffable amount of hours training and troubleshooting. I created a mega-csv upload sheet that is outstanding. Adding products is very quick, and depending on what the product type is, the tags get populated automatically to go into the correct automated collections, along with other cells. Even with the constant difficulties (Shopify server errors constantly, products deleting randomly, etc.) I am always enthusiastic – almost every day. I love my store, I love my team. Even with an abnormal amount of turnover (due mostly to this international COVID clustergaggle) my passion has not diminished.
Shopify is not just removing a store from the web that helps those who have a little less money than others, you are crushing an entrepreneurs spirit and livelihood. You cannot say “you just found out” or “we did not know.” You have no excuse for giving me and my team a false sense of security. I take responsibility for misinterpreting your rules and regulations. But did I misinterpret them? They are clear as mud pie.
Lastly, can you empathize? Maybe you are trying to be nice, but I cannot believe that you can. I bootstrapped my own construction business starting end of 2013. Biggest leap of faith I had taken yet, leaving a six-figure income, excellent benefits, a team I enjoyed working with, excellent mentors… When I sold that business I was determined to start another and do just as well if not better. I think overall I am $1.4 Million in the red. I do have a lot of products still to sell so the “value” is somewhat there. Of course my mentor reminds me I have not lost anything, rather gained an incredible education and journey. Some days it is easier to believe that than others. I would have related to you much better had you said, “Jennifer, I cannot relate to a financial loss of $500,000 so I can see why the imminent closing of your store has you stressed.”
If we could stop this email volley, and someone from legal or risk-management could call me to come to a resolution, that would be great. Preferably BEFORE my store goes away forever. Thank you.
I definitely appreciate your points, and do empathize with your situation. Additionally, I do understand your doubt in accepting my empathy.
That being said, as I mentioned above, our social media, and community team, does not have access to direct accounts. Therefor, if you wish to discuss your account specifics you will need to do so with a live advisor via our help center. This way, we can authenticate you fully to be able to continue addressing the situation.
Keep in mind, our live advisors are not dedicated Risk support, and our Risk Specialists do not have access to live channels. To speak directly with the Risk Management Specialists you will need to continue to respond directly to your last correspondance with our Risk team via email.
Best of luck.
However, we are 100% within our rights to sell anything we want, per United States Code: Title 17. Copyrights
Your rights end where the rights of others begin. Sure sell the IP of others in your own house and stores. Meanwhile Shopify or anyone else is within THIER rights to not let you use them to do so.
This boils down to you've been taking a risk on a third party platform making them take a risk and they noticed it tried to give you the courtesy or managing that risk and you didn't.
False expectations or feelings of entitlement thinking you can do what you want doesn't stop de-platforming. But it is an incredibly good way to spend a ton of time making bad arguments and spend loads of money just to get in front of a judge that throws your case out immediately because it has no merit.
Now they want to remove 7,000+ products, 17,000+ photos and well written product descriptions.
That would be a bargain at triple the price , much better than getting a store shutdown on a platform.
How am I infringing on the copyright or trademark of others when I am selling my personal property?
If you sell someone else IP and trademarks by using another companies services you are creating a bad faith situation whether by accident or intent it doesn't matter. Shopify does not care what your business model is, if the business even a marginal financial risk such as problems with their payment gateways they will boot store without blinking to protect themselves and the millions of other merchants who are adhering to the terms they agreed to.
If a platform gives you a resolution that allows you to keep using that platform you should gladly adhered to it to avoid it becoming unreconcilable. If Shopify allows you to make another store remember your playing in someone else's sandbox do not mess about with the rules they define.
I checked with my attorney before ever starting this store to make sure it was legal.
Then your lawyer should have told you that for the IP and trademarks of other companies you should get approval or agreements to be a licensed reseller of those companies when using third party services.
If you never got those licenses you've been rolling loaded dice in someone elses house.
Getting deplatformed was inevitable.
Echoing what @Skye said , there is something off here either in your recounting or what a lawyer actually advised. You should be talking to a different lawyer that specializes in IP law to explain the situation to you and fix alot of the misconceptions and false expectations you've put on display here, and possibly have that lawyer examine your previous lawyers behavior because at least one person has been irresponsible. Because if you do not you will likely end up in this situation again and again trying it on different platforms.
Hello @paul (and @SkyeH). First off, kudos to you Paul for sticking up for a fellow team member. Right, wrong or indifferent it always feels good when a coworker supports you. I think that is important in a large team environment especially and I can see from your likes that you support your alum often.
I think as a Shopify partner, you should also be supporting the Shopify users, correct? I think we can agree that your note to me is less than helpful; it is condescending and sarcastic. Is this typical Shopify partner behavior? I have been serving customers in one field or another for 25+ years and the first rule is not to match their angst, worries, anger, or frustration. That would not help them at all. The second rule is first seek to understand, instead of being understood. Not you or Skye tried to fully understand my situation, from the responses I do not think what I wrote was even comprehended. The facts I wrote were ignored completely.
For five days I tried to reach someone at Shopify to explain why my store had been shut down. FYI- Shopify has told me on two separate occasions that I am operating within their legal requirements. So no, entitled is not my attitude. Confusion is what I felt. For over two years I had been doing the same thing, with the same product base. To have my store shut down without a new reason, but a reason that has been addressed and approved twice prior was frustrating.
As much as I want to volley back and forth and prove who has a bigger brain; or who can interpret the law better, I have a store to get to. I am immensely grateful that my store is back online. Like anyone who has worked so hard on a start-up business; it is not just any discount retail store to me. This boot-strapped business is a culmination of my dreams, fears, love, hate, life-savings investment, and labor. So much labor. The relief my team and I felt when I read the email that our store was back online and there was nothing, we needed to do was immense. Even though they get paid for their work, my team and I love what this store has provided others and ourselves.
My business helps other businesses sell goods they are no longer selling, and because I sell quality goods for less, I am helping thousands save money. We do excellent work, and if we are told we are hurting a company by selling our products too low, we remove it. We are not in business to hurt anyone if we can help it.
I’m still not quite sure why either of you did not respond with something akin to “I am so sorry to hear this terrible news. I am here to help. How can I help you? What can I do to help get this situation understood and resolved?” You both have immense Shopify experience and knowledge. Instead, I am insulted and ridiculed? Have you ever read the famous excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “The Man in the Arena”? Read it. It will explain my thoughts on true empathy. If either of your take the scary, humble leap of starting a business and investing over a million dollars, I hope you remember me. Because you will be in dire situations sometimes, it is part of owning a company. When you are pulling out your hair, and listening to your heart beat like a freight train you will wish for someone to say “I am here to help, let’s get this situation made better.”
“The Man in the Arena" speech
The most oft-quoted section reads:
“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong (wo)man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the (wo)man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends (her)himself in a worthy cause; who, if (s)he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if (s)he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that (her)his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
I am not quite sure by the phrasing in your reply, but it sounds like your store is back online. Is that correct? If so, that's wonderful news!
That being said, I did want to clarify some things as it seems you have a misunderstanding of the community forums, as well as what a Shopify Partner is which has led to greater frustration. This is only to prevent you from experiencing further frustration in the future. Please allow me to explain. My intent is nothing but positive.
Paul and I are not coworkers, and @PaulNewton does not work for Shopify in any form. A Shopify Partner is a completely independent individual who specializes in all things Shopify. You might have heard the term "third party" in our ecosystem. This refers to apps, or themes, built outside Shopify. These "third party" products are built by someone, like Paul, a Shopify Partner. Partners are not paid to respond to forum posts, as they are not Shopify employees. They do so as a hobby, or to promote themselves and their abilities.
Additionally, the Shopify Community Forum is not Shopify Support. While we do all we can to offer guidance and advice via the forums, we cannot access stores, nor can we ask for store information. We can only provide guidance based on the information provided. I have no access, nor knowledge of your business besides the information you presented above. Thus, I cannot offer to help outside of the community forums. As these are public forums, it's not safe for me to be able to access your store.
If, in the future, you are looking for direct support for your business, the Shopify Help Center is where you will find our live advisors. These advisors can safely access your account and provide you specific, and direct answers.
Best of luck!
Hello Skye, I hope you are well.
I have the exact same problem.
I have been contacting customer service for days and days via chat as well as the legal department via email through my TICKET ID: 9a93fae8-cb80-42cb-b6ac-c7743e42d9bd
I try to tell them in a very courteous way that a mistake has been made because my store is the most honest... but unfortunately they play deaf ears.
It's been 1 year since my site is online, months and months of hard work, partnerships with influencers and blogs... destroyed in 1 click (based on a bad analysis).
I must admit that I don't know who to contact anymore after all these days of battles.
Can you do something?
I think as a Shopify partner, you should also be supporting the Shopify users, correct?
...you did not respond with something akin to “I am so sorry to hear this terrible news. I am here to help. H....
Support does not equate to blindly telling someone what they want to hear in a legal issue.
It's done by clearly laying out the issue, and the best resolution: talk to a new lawyer.
These situations are an issue that is above being a user of Shopify it's about how a business model at a fundamental level interacts with platforms as a legal procedure.
That is a trap for everyone involved who wants to "help", for the business it easily creates false hope that can lead to even worse situations.
Not telling someone what they want to hear is not ridicule nor condescension, support contributors are not lawyers expecting them to claim they can help in a legal issue is purely wrong and trying to make someone take on a responsibility that is not theirs : talk to a new lawyer.
I am immensely grateful that my store is back online
Great!!! Then work to keep it that way, protect your business:
A) avoid using forums for legal issues it only creates frustration wanting to shoot the messengers who ARE trying to help by operating in your interest as much as they are allowed to by breaking it down and what needs to be done: seek professional legal guidance.
B) talk to a new IP lawyer , even show them this post and have them explain the details.
Hi there, Could you let me know how you got your store back on as we are currently going through a similar situation which our website called Shalsb Boutique. We have been running with Shopify for the past 3-4 years and we have this 1 stupid company called Oh Polly who have been targeting us since the day we started our business. Oh Polly managed to get us taken off Instagram, Shut off Facebook and now they are taregting us and bullying us on our Shopify store. They claim that we are copywriting which we are not it is bizzarre! We dropship!
My main question is that the email you got from Shopify did they say your account will be permanently closed? and with this they didn't give you the option to appeal against it? If so what did you say to them to get your store back up? How long was it until your store was back online?
@Shaks-boutique I see your site is back up - how did you get them to let you get it up?
Omg! Oh Polly has really done a number on my FB/IG/Pinterest and Shopify store. I don't dropship, but we apparently use the same supplier. They are doing the exact same thing to us. I have an online boutique as well.
@Skye I have been emailing you back and forth for a week now and you are saying you are shutting down my store tomorrow- can you please respond back to us? hknaildesigns.com We have been selling with shopify now for over a year and just now you want to shut down our store? Our products are all custom made items!!
While I definitely understand the stress this is causing you, and wish I could provide some relief, I don't have access to your specific situation.
That being said, allow me to provide some clarity into why stores may be removed from the platform. This can happen for a variety of reasons, from products not following our Acceptable Use Policy, to chargeback risk, etc.
While your products may be custom products, they could still infringe on the intellectual property of other brands. For example, if you create custom stuffed animals based on the likeness of a Disney character, for example Baby Yoda, this would infringe on Disney's IP.
Best of luck!
Same thing happened to my sneaker store.
@on_point_snkrs I see your site is back up - how did you get them to let you get it up?
Hi there, would you mind telling us how you resolved the issue? There are many other stores with the same issue, would be great to get an inside track here. Thank you
I need help bad , last night my store was shut down for absolutely no reason after a week of business ( I run 2 other Shopify stores ) I have nearly $15k in orders than I can not see or be able to receive my payout. I’m am down money as I took a lot of preparation to open this online store and I am feeling extremely helpless. This is my livelihood and only source of income
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