Amazon sellers can choose from a list of clearly defined terms when describing the items they sell. New items have never been opened or used and include the original, undamaged packaging. The term “Open Box” describes items whose condition can range from used to new but may have been opened or unwrapped.

Unambiguous Product Descriptions

Amazon's Help and Customer Service page describes third-party sellers' product condition guidelines, defining the specific terms they're required to use. According to the site, the term “Open Box” applies to software that may not include the original shrink wrap or extra materials, such as manuals and jewel cases. A secondary description following the term “Open Box” describes the item's condition as “Like New,” “Very Good,” “Good” or “Acceptable” -- the same four terms that describe most used Amazon products.

Used Items and Packaging

While sellers aren't required to use the term “Open Box” when describing most used items, such as cameras and appliances, they must choose one of the secondary terms or describe an item as “Unacceptable.” However, in their written descriptions of products, sellers may use the term “Open Box” the way it's defined for used software. If an item isn't new, you can assume its box has been opened, and the amount of use it has experienced is the more important detail. Contact the seller if the description is unclear, or if his feedback score is low.