There are a number of reasons to file a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with the ultimate goal of earning a trademark registration. Among the most important reasons for possessing a trademark registration is that it puts the general public on notice of your claim of ownership of the mark and it creates a legal presumption of ownership across the United States (you can also file applications outside the United States to enhance your worldwide protection).
Sometimes, applying to register your trademark is not just a wise decision, it is a prerequisite to accessing a very important group of potential customers. We have found that to often be the case for individuals and companies who wish to sell products on Amazon.com and the Amazon mobile application.
Amazon has developed a system called the Amazon Brand Registry. It claims to be a system that intends to protect your brand and intellectual property, providing you with greater influence and control over your brand’s product listings on Amazon. It also serves a very important gatekeeper role that can make it difficult for sellers of products to compete without having a trademark registration in place.
As you may know, the trademark registration process can be lengthy. Typically, it takes anywhere from five-to-twelve months from filing an application to receiving a registration (if you are so fortunate to earn the registration certificate). That is something we assist with on a regular basis at Heitner Legal. At times, it takes even longer than twelve months to get closure on a pending trademark application.
Thus, if you plan to sell on Amazon, do not stall in filing your trademark application(s), as it could cause you to wait even longer to be approved to sell on the Amazon platform. Be proactive and get started on the trademarking process as soon as possible!
What Value Does Amazon Brand Registry Provide?
Overall, Amazon Brand Registry seeks to provide sellers of goods with more control over Amazon product pages that use their brand name. The goal is accuracy on the platform and added value to the brand owner. Ultimately, the belief is that, when brands sign up with and are verified by Amazon Brand Registry, customers will be more likely to see correct information associated with one’s brand.
Amazon Brand Registry also puts very valuable tools in the hands of brand owners. These tools come in handy for routing out infringers of trademarks or those who may be diluting your brand. Tools include a global search option, an image search option and a bulk ASIN search option. Amazon will go the extra mile to take action against infringers on their platform, even if you choose to not file a complaint against those infringers in federal court.
It is a smart system that also proactively searches for bad listings in order to bolster your brand. If another company uses your trademarked terms in its titles, then it will often be routed out and removed. If an image is used by another that contains your logo, then that may automatically raise a red flag.
And the personalized assistance is a real benefit for any brand looking to grow with ease on Amazon’s platform. Amazon Brand Registry provides 24-hour support, seven days a week to those who qualify for the service.
The key is becoming approved to benefit from the Amazon Brand Registry system. That is where Heitner Legal, as an experienced trademark law firm can certainly help. As stated above, possessing the appropriate trademark registrations is vital for acceptance into the Amazon Brand Registry program. You want to make sure that you retain the right law firm to get you to where you need to be to be approved.
What Kind Of Trademark Registration You Will Need To Be Accepted By Amazon Brand Registry.
Amazon Brand Registry has different requirements when it comes to trademark registrations depending on the country in which the brand is based and selling its goods. For the purpose of this article, we will only highlight those requirements for United States-based brands, but we are also able to help those who may be based abroad and/or selling products outside of the United States.
In fact, Amazon Brand Registry will accept trademark registrations for the purpose of enrollment from Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, India, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Singapore, Spain, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to the United States.
United States-based brands must demonstrate that they possess a valid, active and registered text or image-based trademark. Text-based marks are also referred to as word marks, while image-based marks are often referred to as design marks.
Importantly, trademarks must be registered on the Primary Register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office if applying for inclusion in the Amazon Brand Registry through a registration within the United States. Amazon has indicated that trademark registrations on the Supplemental Register will not pass muster.
Why You Should Hire A Trademark Lawyer Before Applying For Amazon Brand Registry.
The trademarking process in the United States and abroad is far from simple. You will be required to pay a filing fee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or another country’s registrar whether or not you retain a qualified trademark lawyer. For a small additional fee, you secure yourself added comfort of having a law firm, such as Heitner Legal, guide you through the complex trademark registration process, particularly if confronted with Office Actions or Suspension Notices submitted by examining attorneys assigned to your filings.
Unfortunately, individuals and corporate entities often fail to prioritize intellectual property protection despite the fact that the intellectual property one possesses may become more valuable than the goods or services sold. You should find an economical law firm, such as Heitner Legal, that provides pre-negotiated flat fee rates so that you experience no surprises through the course of the trademark registration process.
Amazon will not file a trademark application for you, nor will it guide you through the process of obtaining a trademark registration for the purpose of being approved into Amazon Brand Registry. If you think that at any point in time you will want to be part of the Amazon Brand Registry program, then we suggest being proactive and getting a trademark application filed as soon as possible, particularly because the registration process will take considerable time irrespective of how experienced your trademark lawyer may be.
The Amazon Brand Registry Is Growing, And A Good Trademark Lawyer Can Help You With The Onboarding Process.
As of March 2020, Amazon Brand Registry has signed up more than 200,000 brands. All of those brands joined Amazon Brand Registry in roughly three years of the program’s existence.
Perhaps more impressive than the number of brands that have successfully registered with Amazon Brand Registry is the success that the program has had in routing out bad actors. According to Amazon, more than 1 million bad actor accounts have been stalled from publishing any listings for sale based on the discovery of a potential issue with an existing brand on the platform. Additionally, another 3 billion suspected bad listings have been blocked before being published to Amazon based on the tools included as part of the program.
One such tool called Transparency is credited with removing 300,000 counterfeits from ever reaching customers. Amazon indicates that more than 7,000 brands have enrolled in the Transparency program. Additionally, 7,000 brands have enrolled in a program called Project Zero, which has proactively removed 500 listings in twelve months of being offered.
Again, the only way to take advantage of the Amazon Brand Registry and its myriad tools is to possess the required trademark registration(s) for access. That is where an experienced trademark lawyer comes in handy.
Is Amazon Brand Registry Acceptance Required To Sell On Amazon?
The answer is absolutely not. However, as noted above, being part of the program provides you with a host of benefits. You have the right to enforce your valuable intellectual property rights, including trademarks (common law and registered), even if you sell on Amazon without being part of the Amazon Brand Registry program. There is a form that Amazon provides to all sellers on its platform, irrespective of whether they are enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry. It is often advisable to have an attorney assist you with filling out the firm to give yourself the best chance of receiving the relief you are requesting.
Amazon issues an Intellectual Property Policy for Sellers separate from its Amazon Brand Registry. Right in the front it indicates that a seller may not violate the IP rights of brands or other rights owners. Violating same could result in the loss of selling privileges or other legal consequences.
What To Do Next To Improve Chances Of Accptance On Amazon Brand Registry.
Your best bet is to make sure that you are fully protected from an intellectual property standpoint. This is advisable even if you are not interested in selling any products through Amazon.