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 business, how can a seller, either small or large, get an edge over their cutthroat competitors? Well, the solution is simple… as always, trademarks (brands).
Amazon, as most other online intermediary portals, have had a hard time making sure the rights of trademark owners are upheld. However, Amazon’s Brand Registry is now available for Amazon third party sellers and looks to not only improve their response in case of trademark infringement, but also grant advantages to owners of registered trademarks over their competitors. Such advantage will not be automatic to all trademark holders that offer their knickknacks through Amazon, but only to those who register with Amazon’s Brand Registry available through Amazon’s seller central.
Main benefits for trademark holders who enroll with Amazon’s 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; however, it will allow for trademark owners reporting infringement to 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.
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 Amazon’s 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 Amazon’s 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.
Quick overview of the requirements for enrolling a trademark with Amazon’s Brand registry
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 trademarked. Amazon is currently accepting only trademark registered in the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, European Union, Australia, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
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. Germany is also very fast if registered through the accelerated process.
If one is a distributor and not the actual trademark owner, Amazon will provide you with a brand authorization form that will have to be filled out by the manufacturer (owner of the trademark) authorizing you to register with Amazon’s 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 requirements are for enrolling in Amazon’s Brand registry, contact Amazon directly.
iGERENT offers trademark services in 180+ countries, for further information visit igerent.com.
Author: Conrad Fahrenkrug Attorney-at-law @ iGERENT