Trademarks and the Amazon Brand Registry

Trademarks and Amazon Brand Registry

Amazon is a monster, but in the good sense of the word. This one-stop shop for everything you may need - and in most cases not - is the perfect meeting place for responsible consumers, shopaholics and sellers.

In this virtual marketplace that allows for the average Joe to compete face to face with big businesses, how can a seller, whether small or large, get an edge over their cutthroat competitors? Well, the solution is simple: as always, trademarks.

Amazon, as most other online intermediary portals, have had a hard time making sure the rights of brand owners are upheld. However, Amazon’s Brand Registry is now available for Amazon third party sellers. Its aim is not only to improve their response in case of trademark infringement, but also to grant advantages to owners of registered trademarks over their competitors.

Such advantage will not be automatically granted to all trademark holders that offer their knickknacks through Amazon. It will only be for those who have their brand registered with Amazon’s Brand Registry, which is available through Amazon’s seller central.

Main benefits for Amazon trademarks holders who enroll with the Amazon Brand registry

Cases of trademark infringement through Amazon

It will provide trademark owners with access, through their account with Amazon, to specialized text and image search modules that will allow Amazon to take better measures in response against trademark infringers.

This does not mean that other sellers will not be able to sell your products and use your brand on Amazon. However, trademark owners who report infringement will have their claims taken with a greater degree of seriousness in counterfeit cases. 

Being enrolled with Amazon’s brand registry will prove helpful in order to have the infringer’s account removed from Amazon and protect your brand.

Enhanced brand content and full listing control!

Generally, the content that appears together with any item offered through Amazon, such as product title, product information, brand placement, reviews, photographs of the product itself, can be submitted by any seller. When multiple sellers offer the same products, Amazon, in most cases, decides what appears in the listing from what has been submitted by all vendors of the products. Therefore, as the owner of the trademark associated with a specific product, one generally has little to no impact on what content appears associated with their products. 

Once you register your trademark through the Amazon Brand registry, you will essentially have full listing control over the product. You will be able to determine how the product listing appears, the descriptions associated with the product and the images that should be used to offer it. In other words, the trademark owner decides what content appears together with the product page. Other sellers will not be able to determine what goes on the product page. 

Who is eligible to register their trademark through the Amazon Brand registry?

  1. Manufacturers who want to sell their own branded products directly through Amazon
  2. Sellers that add their own trademarks to products that they do not manufacture directly.
  3. Authorized distributors or resellers. In these cases, an authorization to register the brand must be given by the manufacturer.

What are the main Amazon Brand Registry Requirements?

You will have to provide Amazon with an image (picture) of the product that shows the trademark appearing on the product itself and on the packaging. This is similar to what the USPTO requires for specimens of use in trademark registration processes in the United States.

You will have to provide a website that shows the products you will offer together with the brand (trademark). Please note that the following products are not eligible to be enrolled through Amazon’s registry: books, music, videos, DVDs, entertainment or sports collectibles. 

The brand must be effectively registered; trademark applications are not accepted. Amazon is currently accepting only trademarks registered in the following countries:

United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, European Union, Australia, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, India, Turkey, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Benelux

You may view information and prices for trademark registration in these countries through the links below:

Which of these countries have the fastest trademark registration process? The United Kingdom and the European Union. Benelux is also very fast, especially if the accelerated registration process is requested.

If you are a distributor and not the actual trademark owner, you will need to provide a brand authorization form. It must be filled out by the trademark owner and will  authorize you to register the trademark with the Amazon Brand registry.

In most cases, it will be necessary for the manufacturer to have the trademark registered.

Common Mistakes when Enrolling

Until recently the brand/trademark had to be registered as a wordmark (standard character mark). In this case the word must be identical (exactly the same) on what you submit and how it will appear on the products you offer through Amazon. Spaces, punctuation, whether you use upper and/or lower-case letters… really… it has to be IDENTICAL. If the trademark varies in any degree from how the words appear on what you will offer, it will not be accepted by Amazon.

Amazon has recently stated that some types of design trademarks are now eligible for enrollment. If your design trademark contains design and text, including words, letters, or numbers, that match your brand name as reflected on your Brand Registry application, this will be accepted.

Each product will have to have a unique key attribute (EAN, UPC, GTIN, etc.). Basically, each one of your goods will have to have an identifying number that allows you to clearly identify one product from others. Certain categories are exempt from UPC requirements, giving the opportunity to choose different ways to identify your products.

Please note that Amazon has been updating their process. To be sure what the latest Amazon Brand Registry Requirements are, contact Amazon directly.

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Contact us directly if you have any questions regarding trademark registration.

 

Author: Conrad Fahrenkrug Attorney-at-law @ iGERENT

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