When Should Amazon Sellers Trademark Their Brand?

trademark registration

After about 30 minutes of tense conversation about her Amazon account, a sob escaped Jana’s lips. I could hear the beginnings of a total breakdown on the other end of the phone line.

“But this is my product,” she protested. “I designed and manufactured it with my own two hands. How can Amazon allow someone else to just rip it off this way?”

This upsetting scenario plays out daily for Amazon third-party sellers. They create and manufacture an exciting new item, and they launch it on the world’s most powerful e-commerce platform. Once sales pick up, they become a target for counterfeiters.

Fortunately, Amazon has devised a solution to help. The key for sellers? Get a trademark on your brand as early in the process as possible.

Anatomy of a hijacker

There is an army of hijackers out there just waiting for successful new products to be launched on Amazon. I cannot even count the number of clients who have called me after a new seller suddenly popped up on their ASIN – even though they had tight control of their distribution.

The vast majority of these hijackers are in China, although there are a fair number in other countries and the United States as well. Once a product starts to rank on Amazon and pick up substantial sales, the hijacker finds a manufacturer to create a knockoff version. They often use substandard materials and have lower product quality, so they can price their counterfeit product lower than the original.

This creates two significant problems. First, it steals sales away from those selling legitimate products. And secondly, it creates a passel of bad reviews, since the knock-offs don’t match the product description and are of poor quality.

Brand Registry FTW!

Amazon launched its Brand Registry to help sellers in these situations. With Brand Registry, a brand owner can:

  • Maintain primary control over the Product Detail Page, so other sellers cannot make inaccurate changes
  • Establish that their ASINs are authentic and legitimate
  • Kick hijackers who are selling counterfeit product off of their ASINs

Essentially, Brand Registry helps brand owners establish and maintain some semblance of control over their brand on Amazon. It’s not a perfect system, and the “bad guys” will always find workarounds. But Brand Registry offers a reasonable solution for brand owners trying to stay a step ahead.

What is the key component of Brand Registry? It all starts with a trademark. Amazon requires brand owners to submit their trademark paperwork (via their attorney) and confirm that it is accurate. Only then can brand owners and sellers establish a Brand Registry account and control their ASINs.

This is why it’s critical for private-label sellers to start the paperwork on a trademark as soon as it is established. It can take six months for the trademark process to be completed, and another two to three months for Brand Registry to be established after that.

Work the system

Once you have Brand Registry, it’s time to work the system to create the best results for your brand:

  • Leverage A+ content and video content options to maximize sales
  • Monitor your product detail pages continually, to ensure no content changes were made by other sellers
  • If content changes were made, leverage Brand Registry Support to fix them ASAP
  • Watch for counterfeiters on your listings and perform test buys of their goods
  • If you can prove the items are fake, file intellectual property complaints via Brand Registry Support to have the counterfeits removed from the ASIN

But again, all of these actions depend upon one thing: having control of your trademark. Don’t hesitate. File to make your trademark official today.

If you have questions, or find your seller account in need of help, reach out to someone that knows the process. Riverbend Consulting helps sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running after a suspension, deactivation or block. Our team of Amazon experts – including former Amazon employees – searches our clients’ accounts to suss out the underlying problems that led to the enforcement. Our solutions are practical, real-world, and aimed at improving both operational performance and profitability.

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