amazon-logoA few weeks ago I received some emails from a person who was clearly not lucid. The person was also tweeting gibberish with my @rsguthrie name in the tweets. I never responded to him, naturally hoping the delusion would solve itself. There was nothing threatening or dangerous in the posts or emails, so I assumed it was just more chaff that would eventually dry out and blow away.

Well I was notified that two days ago the person published a book on Amazon with my author name both on his cover and listed as the sole contributor (Editor). All of this without him ever actually hearing from or speaking with me! And here’s the scary part:

"Team Amazon"

“Team Amazon”

Amazon’s publishing review team (you know, the experts that can take twelve hours to decide whether your book—even just a price or text change—is proper for release to the civilized world), infamous and ruthless as they may be (twice having stopped my upload for a search keyword that was “too broad”), allowed this person to post a book with my name on the cover and listing me as its sole contributor without ever consulting me.

So I wrote Amazon KDP and their lauded team of gatekeepers last night, and they informed me the onus is on me to provide proof that my trademark (author name) has been infringed upon, meanwhile leaving the person’s book up on their site!

Guthrie_King_BookTo say I am aghast is the understatement of 2015. I should publish a book under Stephen King’s name and make a quick million before they sort it out and take it down!

Caveat Emptor, and then some! If someone uses your name, and puts you as the sole contributor, the book appears on Amazon’s site as your book. How this can happen is beyond me. I’ve had to go to my AuthorCentral page because Amazon did not have one of my books correctly tied to my name, but some stranger can post work that claims to be written/edited/whatever by ME, and there is no verification process whatsoever.

Not an exciting or interesting blog, per se, but one I felt I should post to let authors (and readers) know that such fraud is not only possible, it is verifiable!

Now, since I hate posting pure negativity, let me finish by presenting you a Friday laugh from one of my all-time favorite movies (as if the above book parody wasn’t enough). It’s unrelated, but a great way to start the weekend:


The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.



12 Responses to Amazon Review Process Does NOT Protect Your Trademark

  1. Dean Mayes says:

    Rob – I am no longer surprised by anything that Amazon does or doesn’t do. It is indicative of a corporate behemoth that has lost control of its due diligence – or it simply doesn’t care.

    Were it not so pervasive, I would seriously consider not stocking my titles with them. But I am pathetic.

  2. rsguthrie says:

    Heck, Dean, I’m more pathetic than that: I actually had a twinge of worry “what if I piss off Amazon?”…unreal. The funny thing is I was a huge Amazon user before anyone had heard of them. When they were just starting to become more than a bookstore (even before that). People would ask where I got something and I would say Amazon and they’d respond “Ama-who?”. No kidding. Wish I would have put my money where my mouth was and bought stock. I was touting them from the rooftops but bought no stock. NOW who looks pathetic? : |

  3. Rosemary says:

    Oh, I love that movie too. I might just have to go and watch my copy all over again now. 🙂

    Meanwhile, that is atrocious about Amazon! Is there no recourse? Such as me sharing the link to this blog post all over facebook and twitter?

    • rsguthrie says:

      The guy who published the book said he is working with Amazon to take it down and put it back up without my name associated with it, so, no harm, no foul in my book. As long as it happens! Otherwise I am going to go after AMAZON for allowing the book to stay up after being given knowledge from an existing author on their site (me) that I have nothing to do with that book and they need to take it down until resolved. That’s what surprises me the most. I would think with legal risk being what it is, the safe/default action would be to unpublish it until sorted out. To answer Ryan’s question above, you can bet if I tried to publish a book under Stephen King’s name, they’d NEVER let it through.

      And I agree: I could watch TBC anytime. 🙂

  4. Did you at least make a few bucks?

    If you did the Stephen King doppleganger bit, would Amazon still pay you the royalties? Net 60 so you’d need to wait a couple months.

    At least you didn’t have a flare gun go off in your locker and destroy your non-operational elephant lamp. Nor did you spill paint in the garage. Larry Lester doesn’t have nightmares about you duct taping his buns together.

    How much do you reckon OMD’s theme song contributed to the iconic status of TBC?

    • rsguthrie says:

      HA, I know, we could go on all night with the Breakfast Club quotes, right? That movie is one great scene/quote after another. And actually, it’s the little things like “Who am I? WHO am I? I am a walrus.” and the scene where he and Bender go to both take their coats off and Brian putting his back on but then blowing on his hands like he was cold. CLASSIC John Hughes.

      Oh, and though I love the song, I think it was just another OUTSTANDING cog in the masterpiece that is TBC! [And you’re confusing OMD’s Touch You Once in Pretty in Pink, which I think had a TON to do with elevating that movie; Simple Minds sang Don’t You (Forget About Me).]

      When we connect in person some day, we MUST have a screening—a John Hughes Celebration!

  5. Mary Pax says:

    OK, that was a terrifying story. You should see if the other person filed a copyright. If not, maybe if you file one you can get Amazon to take it down.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Hi, Mary!

      Actually, as an author, your name is automatically your trademark. In this case, however, if there was another R.S. Guthrie out there (which there isn’t), but I would be fine with it. (Imagine if your name were Steve Jones and you were a writer! In this case, he linked literally to me and Amazon showed the book as “by” me, too (I never mentioned that; because he ONLY listed me as the Editor, and not himself as the Author, Amazon’s configuration shows the book as mine, depending on where you see it:

      Trademark Infringement

  6. Patricia Gragg says:

    The same thing happened to me maybe 3 years back. I had a book that was high in the rankings. Then a book appeared with my last name in big type and my first name in small type above it. He had a cover that resembled mine and he used the same layout and he even had the same format in the listing. I contacted Amazon with no results. Then about a year and a half later, Amazon contacted a friend of mine wanting comments. She took this chance to mention my problem. He changed the first name, so I assume they contacted him. However, the book is still there.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Un-believable. I am without words. Makes my situation look like an honest mistake. WOW. I am utterly shocked at Amazon’s indifference toward authors. Their apathy is going to come back on them one day.

      Thanks for sharing, Patricia.

  7. Ila Turner says:

    Someone has already ticked off people with a Stephen King name:

    • rsguthrie says:

      Hi, Ila.

      Well, if you don’t care about the scathing hate reviews, the book looks to be selling pretty well. I think I’ll stick to the old method of grinding it out honestly.

      Of course that’s why I am always looking in a trashcan for my next meal. 🙂

      Thanks for that.

      And thanks for reading! (Makes me think of Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting when Matt Damon says he read the therapist’s book and Williams character says “So you’re the one!”)

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