Amazon Brand Registry
The exponential rise in the popularity of online marketplaces has come with many benefits. Unfortunately, it’s also made it easier for counterfeiters and infringers to violate the intellectual property (IP) rights of others. When this happens, each platform’s owners must take action to ensure they don’t face liability along with the infringer themselves.
There are numerous ways online marketplaces fight intellectual property infringement, but one of the most promising is the Amazon Brand Registry. After facing legal challenges of its own, Amazon has begun taking these violations very seriously. Because of this, it’s up to IP owners and sellers on the platform to fully understand the brand registration process.
What is the Amazon Brand Registry Program?
Amazon has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. In fact, Amazon Prime, the platform’s premium service, jumped from a household penetration of 23 percent to 51 percent in less than three years. It’s the online marketplace to be on, but this also means intellectual property right infringers invade it for illicit profits. Combatting this is the entire focus of the Amazon Brand Registry.
By registering your brand with Amazon’s Brand Registry program, you’re essentially letting the platform know that the brand is yours alone. Even if others sell your products in the online marketplace, Amazon will prioritize your rights over third-party sellers who offer the same items. In addition to this, you gain access to proprietary tools that make text and image searches simpler than ever.
If a company is on Amazon’s Brand Registry, they also have access to the following tools:
- Easy identification of listings that inappropriately use your brand name or logo.
- A simple infringement reporting tool that provides guided workflow.
- Ability to search by keywords and Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs).
- Analysis of your reports to allow for predictive automation.
While Amazon Brand Registry is often touted as a tool to fight trademark infringement, it can also be effective at finding violations against your copyrights and patents. Searches involving keywords, ASINs, images, and written content are effective regardless of the intellectual property in question.
While these search tools are extremely useful in helping you identify infringement on your own, it’s the automated tools that really stand out. The more information you provide to Amazon Brand Registry, the better its algorithms will be at automatically detecting violations upon your intellectual property rights.
Amazon Brand Registry Benefits
In addition to the powerful search tools provided by Amazon Brand Registry, there are several other benefits that come along with signing up. One of the most popular is prioritization over product detail pages. In some instances, third-party sellers will go through the process of changing information on these pages. Unfortunately, this can include inaccurate or out-of-date material.
If this occurs, you’d typically have to open a case with Amazon to have the information corrected. As a registered brand, however, the information you provide is given priority over other sellers who may be using the same detail page. This ensures consumers always have the most up-to-date information about your brand and products.
The following are additional benefits of Amazon Brand Registry:
- Brand Dashboard helps you optimize your listings for improved conversion.
- Ability to create Enhanced Brand Content.
- 24/7 support – which can be hard to get as a traditional seller.
- Decreased ad approval times and the ability to edit without pausing the listing.
- Brand Gating capabilities to control who can sell your products.
All these benefits can help you improve sales, ensure your brand is properly represented and prevent instances of trademark, copyright and patent infringement. If your goal is to protect your intellectual property on Amazon, registering your brand is the first and most important step.
Amazon Brand Registry Requirements
There are over 60,000 brands hosted on the Amazon Brand Registry. Registration isn’t as simple as claiming you have rights over the products in question. You must have an active registered trademark that’s placed on either the items you sell or the packaging they’re sold in. This means going through the trademark registration process in your country.
You can also protect your products in other countries by providing evidence of trademarks in each enrollment country. Fortunately, you can still receive protection in other regions through the Amazon Transparency program, explained in-depth later. To get on the Brand Registry, you’ll need to go through the following process:
- Ensure your trademark meets the Brand Registration eligibility requirements.
- Have your trademark registration number handy during signup.
- Provide documents that prove you are the owner of the trademark in question.
- Sign in using an Amazon account. Only account holders can register a brand.
- Enroll your brand. You’ll need to provide:
- Your registered trademark.
- Trademark number.
- All product categories where your property might be listed.
- Countries where you do business (e.g. manufacturing, distribution, etc.).
There is plenty of additional information you can provide to the Amazon Brand Registry. The aforementioned points are simply what’s required for your brand to be registered. Keep in mind that your intellectual property rights will receive more protection based on the level of information you enter into the system.
Amazon has specific eligibility requirements for trademarks. Text-based trademarks are accepted, and image-based trademarks that feature letters, numbers and words are also appropriate. Keep in mind that many countries have different classifications for registered trademarks, so a trademark type accepted in one region may not be suitable in another.
Amazon Brand Registry trademarks are also only accepted from issuing agencies in the following countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- European Union
If you have a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) registration, you’ll need to submit the information from your country since it may not be the same.
Amazon Brand Registry Trademark Requirement
Once Amazon receives your application, they’ll attempt to contact the individual you associated with your trademark in the application. This is likely your trademark attorney. After verifying that the contact provided meets the eligibility requirements of Amazon Brand Registry, they’ll send out a verification code. Once this code is received, it simply needs to be sent back to Amazon in order to complete your registration.
Amazon Brand Registry Application
The Brand Registry application will first start by asking about your eligibility. These questions will include the following:
- What’s the brand name you’re registering?
- Do you have a government-registered trademark consisting of words, numbers or letters?
- What’s the trademark registration number and country of origin?
- Do your products or packaging contain the permanently affixed logo/brand name?
- Are you registering more than 10 brands in the marketplace?
The next section will require additional information on what you’ve already provided. This will include images of your product, its packaging and your logo. This page will also request URLs to your website and social media pages. The last section will ask for product information such as UPCs, ISBNs and other identifiers. This is also where you’ll select your product categories.
Amazon Brand Registry Cost
Considering all the additional tools and improved customer service, many people assume Amazon Brand Registry costs would be prohibitive. In reality, any legitimate brand with a trademark can sign up free of charge. The initial version of brand registration, prior to Amazon Brand Registry 2.0 (explained more below), worked about as well as you’d think a free tool would. Fortunately, this has changed.
Prior to Amazon Brand Registry 2.0, you only needed to provide images and proof of ownership of the brand’s domain name. Since the update occurred and trademarks are now required, some sellers see trademark registration as an Amazon Brand Registry entry cost. While you technically do need to pay money to register your trademark before signing up, you should already be doing this to protect your trademark anyway.
Amazon Brand Registry 2.0
While the original Amazon Brand Registry was an important first step in fighting IP theft, it had serious flaws that left intellectual property owners and buyers alike at a disadvantage. It did little to prevent unscrupulous sellers from hijacking a listing and selling generic or counterfeit items under the guise of legitimate products. This led to buyers getting subpar products and leaving negative feedback for legitimate sellers who had no part of the transaction.
Additionally, there were no automated tools. This meant every instance of infringement had to be reported by the intellectual property owner. Unfortunately, it was not a simple process at the time. In May 2017, though, Amazon started making improvements upon the tool, and Amazon Brand Registry 2.0 was born.
The registry is constantly evolving and adding new features to improve the overall experience on the platform. The main improvements of Amazon Brand Registry 2.0, however, are listed below.
More Stringent Signup Requirements
As evidenced by the seemingly tedious process of getting placed on the Amazon Brand Registry, one of the biggest changes was the implementation of stringent signup requirements. In the past, the owner of a brand’s domain, even if it wasn’t the brand itself, could claim rights over a product. Now, only trademark owners or their authorized agents can do so.
Dedicated User Interface
With the original Brand Registry, it was necessary to work through Seller Central to get anything done. Additionally, there were very few tools that could be easily found and utilized. Amazon Brand Registry 2.0, on the other hand, created a dedicated user interface outside of Seller Central. This makes all your registered brands easier to track, and the process for reporting infringement is far simpler and superior to the original version.
Proprietary Search Tools
The search functions discussed earlier haven’t always been part of Amazon Brand Registry. Under the first version, you wouldn’t even know your rights had been infringed upon unless you received negative feedback or the infringer managed to gain access to your listing’s “buy” function. With the new search tools available, you can utilize the user interface to track down potential violations.
Amazon Infringement Team
Prior to Amazon Brand Registry 2.0, many intellectual property owners avoided reporting infringement simply because of the difficulty in doing so. You either had to send a cease and desist letter to the infringer or purchase a counterfeit product just so Amazon would allow you to file a complaint.
In many cases, it took Amazon several days to respond to these complaints. After receiving consistent criticism over this approach, the company brought on 300 employees who focused primarily on infringement. Some sellers have reported getting responses in as little as four hours after this change. In a world where days can mean untold amounts of lost revenue, improved response times is a welcome improvement.
More people are using Amazon Marketplace on a daily basis. Their userbase has increased so much, in fact, that money spent on shipping increased from around $5 million in 2012 to about $22 million in 2017. With this amount of purchases and shipping, ensuring customers receive legitimate products is a necessity for Amazon to maintain its stance in the market. This is why they’ve implemented their Transparency program.
Those who sign up to the Transparency program have access to an item-level tracking service that prevents counterfeit items from ever reaching consumers. Once in the program, brands affix an alphanumeric code provided by Amazon to their products. Whenever one of these products comes through a fulfillment center, employees scan the item to ensure it’s legitimate.
If the product has an inaccurate code or is missing it altogether, Amazon will investigate the seller who sent it. If improper actions are determined, the property will be sent back or destroyed. To sign up, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Ability to provide verification that you’re the brand owner (Brand Registration makes this simple).
- Products must feature a Global Trade Item Number (e.g. UPC barcodes).
- Ability to add a unique Transparency code to every item.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to register all your brand’s products with Transparency. If one particular item is frequently counterfeited or simply more valuable than others, you can opt to only enroll this product in the program. This might be the most powerful tool in Amazon’s arsenal for fighting infringement.
Consumers who use the Amazon app can also scan these products to ensure authenticity. Intellectual property rights owners also have the option to provide additional product information (e.g. manufacture date, location, etc.) for their customers. Not only does Transparency protect sellers, but it also lets consumers know that a brand cares.
Amazon Brand Gating
Another tool provided by the Brand Registry is the ability to prevent others from selling your product. This is known as Amazon Brand Gating, and it’s a bit more proactive than the Transparency program. Rather than waiting for infringing items to be shipped, IP owners can stop them from ever being listed. When you use brand gating, you have more control over who can use your listings and ASINs.
Once a product is brand gated, there’s a process a seller must go through before they can list the product:
- Provide evidence (e.g. invoices) that the product stock was bought from manufacturer.
- Show that written permission to sell the product was received from brand.
- Pay a per-brand fee before selling products.
Keep in mind that this only applies to items listed as “New.” The first sale doctrine still allows consumers to resell products they’ve previously purchased. Most counterfeiters who want to sell products as new, however, will have trouble getting written permission, actual invoices and the high fees required before selling can take place.
Amazon Brand Registry Attorneys – Mandour & Associates, APC
Amazon’s Brand Registry is one of the most proactive measures the platform has undertaken to combat intellectual property theft. Both sellers and creators alike can use the tool to ensure their rights are not infringed upon. Unfortunately, proper protection often requires proactivity. While there are automated tools available, the onus of reporting violations may sometimes still fall upon you. At Mandour & Associates, we understand that it can be difficult navigating the world of intellectual property rights on Amazon. While Amazon Brand Registry can often get infringing items removed, there are times when counterfeiters may fight back. Additionally, you could be wrongfully accused of infringement by a competitor. Whatever the case, we can assist.
If you have an Amazon Brand Registry issue, please contact us today for a consultation.