Greg Mercer is by no means a lawyer and you should speak with an attorney about any specifics when doing Amazon product research. The information shared here should not be considered legal advice. But Greg has a lot of experience dealing with these types of things.
When doing product research, the first thing is patents. These offer protection for inventors. No one can use their idea for the length of the patent. If you do, the patent owner can sue you.
The expensive way to find out if something is patented is to hire a lawyer to do a full patent product search. It’s expensive, takes a lot of time, and is full of headaches. However, you can be sure that you won’t have to worry.
Greg will look for red flags. If it’s a unique item that he’s never seen before or has a unique feature, that would be a red flag. Another would be if they’re the only one selling that type of product. Whereas if there are 8 people selling the same thing, it’s probably not patented because the patent owner would have come after them. An easy way, is many patent owner will put that in the description, or on the owner’s website. A lot of times you can just Google the item plus patent.
If at that point, you still think there might be a chance it’s patented, then it’s best to just drop the project.
Greg avoids selling products where there is strong brand loyalty. People buying running shoes, wants Nike or one of these big brands. That’s an item to stay away from. Whereas, does anyone really care who makes their alarm clocks? Apparel is another category with brand loyalty, also electronics. People care who makes their TVs and computers.
Do people care if their mixer is made by Kitchenaid? Or would they be ok with a private label? To determine this, you need to figure out how well the Kitchenaid is selling vs the private label. If the kitchenaid is selling 3000 units a month and the private label is selling 100, that’s a red flag. If Kitchenaid is selling 1000 a month and the private label is selling 600, that tells me people are willing to buy a private label.