Counterfeiting has been a huge problem on Amazon, as it has the world over, both online and off. To combat it, Amazon launched the Brand Registry in 2015. The program is in continuous development, with the most recent updates released over the past couple of months. These updates are aimed at helping to protect itself, shoppers, and brands selling on the platform. Many are duped by unscrupulous sellers who pass off fake items to shoppers, disappointing customers and effectively stealing sales from legitimate sellers.
The new Brand Registry, dubbed Brand Registry 2.0, will be available for free throughout most of North America. Amazon hopes to efficiently monitor and manage all brand violations on the platform with this updated program.
Brand Registry 2.0
The idea behind having a brand is recognition. Customers buy a brand because they know and trust its quality. Brands stand by their manufacturers and suppliers, and customers depend on this when they make purchases. The new Brand Registry includes a text and image search feature as well as predictive automation. These are designed to help drive traffic to brand stores as customers search by brand.
The tool has been undergoing testing since its beta launch. Amazon wants it to be easy to use so that sellers can report infringements and personalize their listings for branding purposes, and so that the Buy Box goes to the right seller. Vice President of Amazon Marketplace Peter Faricy told Reuters in March that brands can also register logos and intellectual property with Amazon to provide proof to support complaints and allow Amazon to take down listings and even seller accounts that are linked to counterfeiting. A related program called Transparency allows registered brands to label their packages with a unique code that customers can use to cross-reference their purchases against official brand information.
One thing that is not so easy but that Amazon believes is necessary to properly protect brands is the stricter application requirements. Only brands with active registered trademarks can join, and sellers who registered before April 30, 2017 will have to apply again to ensure compliance. A domain name for your brand, branded packaging and products are no longer enough.
This means more work for brands, but it is worth the effort for proper protection against counterfeit competition.
Why Join the Brand Registry?
Every brand needs protection from counterfeiting, which costs businesses in the US hundreds of billions of dollars every year. The Amazon Brand Registry gives sellers on the marketplace an additional layer of security and a direct line to report violations. Registration provides sellers with several advantages.
- Power to change product listing content and protect pages from unwanted edits
- Page content locked to your brand with exclusive rights to accept or reject changes
- Exclusive ownership of the Buy Box
- The right to Enhanced Brand Content
- Use of GCIDs (Global Catalogue Identifiers) instead of GTIN barcodes, ISBNs, UPCs and EANs for greater matching efficiency
- Better matches for your unique product listing
- Power to report counterfeits to Amazon via the Report a Violation tool
- Power to request the ejection of sellers who try to hijack listings
- More control over product titles, descriptions, details and images
Here’s what you need to do to get on the new Brand Registry:
Apply for a Trademark
The only way that you can truly protect your brand is to have it registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Amazon will not go the extra mile to protect your listing content if you haven’t taken this first step to protect your brand.
Once you submit your application, it can take anywhere from six months to a year and a half to get approval. This is a long time to wait, and if you don’t have the time, you can apply for UPC exemption to continue selling without a GTIN. You should be in touch with Amazon to get the specifics on this before you apply to the Brand Registry.
To ensure that you don’t get rejected by the USPTO and have to reapply, do some research to find out if there are any other brands using a name similar to yours. If another company has the same name and sells similar products, your application is likely going to be rejected. You don’t want to be confused with this brand later on, in any case. Look up your name and variations of it online to get an idea of who else out there is using it. Choose one that is unique and head over to the Patent office to get registered.
If you have done business under this name for some time and you find that other companies using it are not related to your business, you might be able to continue using that name. Just make sure that your products are in a completely separate category and can in no way be confused with those of the other company. The Patent office will likely allow it if there is no overlap.
Register Your Brand
All traditional product manufacturers, private label sellers who have permission from manufacturers, and those who produce hand-made and custom products are eligible to join the Amazon Brand Registry. They must be prepared to provide Amazon with proof of trademark ownership by showing a trademark registration number and photos of the actual products and their packaging that show the trademark name along with some standard requirements such as the brand logo, a list of countries where the product is manufactured and distributed, and the seller’s chosen product categories.
Wait for Approval
Amazon usually needs about two weeks to review your documentation and approve your application to the Brand Registry. To make sure that there are no delays, check that you have submitted the proper paperwork. Give Amazon the correct link to your brand website, and make sure that your brand name and the address there is the same as on your Amazon account. If the name is different, your website needs to be updated to reflect both names before you register. A formal letter of authorization from the manufacturer where you source your products and clear photographs of your actual products and packaging bearing your trademarked brand name are also essential to getting your application through smoothly.
Always make sure to check with Amazon before you make any moves. These changes can be tricky, and you want to make sure that you have read up on the ins and outs before you submit anything.