If you’re in the business of selling products, Amazon’s marketplace is an incredible platform that makes it possible for you to reach millions of potential buyers online. You can take advantage of Amazon’s consumer base and fast shipping for a small commission from each sale you make.
It’s no surprise then that Amazon is so popular with third-party retailers and independent sellers. But the platform’s popularity also makes it a common target for counterfeiters and listing hijackers who pass off fake brand products as the real thing.
The Amazon Brand Registry was created to solve the problem of counterfeit listings. The ABR connects branded products to their authentic sellers, protecting both sellers (from lost sales to counterfeits) and consumers (from buying counterfeit goods). Sellers who join the Amazon Brand Registry get the benefit of brand protection on Amazon’s website.
The problem? You need a federally registered trademark to join the Amazon Brand Registry.
A federal trademark registration establishes the legal presumption that:
- You are the actual owner of the trademark you claim,
- The trademark is legally valid (i.e., filed properly), and
- You have the exclusive right to use the mark across all 50 states.
The Amazon Brand Registry offers many benefits and protections for businesses and sellers serious enough to get a proper trademark. But the trademark registration process can be complicated, even if it sounds simple on paper. If you file a trademark application incorrectly, you could lose hundreds of dollars and months of your time. If you fail to file a trademark application at all, someone else could register your brand name instead.
Holmes Business Law offers trademark registration services tailored to the needs of Amazon sellers. Call our offices now at 215-482-0285 to get started on the right track.
What Is the Amazon Brand Registry?
The Amazon Brand Registry grants you exclusive tools to protect and promote your brand on the Amazon market. If you join with a valid trademark, you get:
- Predictive data and reports of suspected intellectual property infringement
- The ability to stop the sale of counterfeit products by other sellers on Amazon
- Protection against counterfeiters, unauthorized sellers, and malicious competitors
- Special features to promote your brand and products on the Amazon market
- Additional sales data and keyword analytics to help you better target buyers
The benefits of owning a trademark for your business range far and wide – beyond just Amazon. If you hold a valid federal trademark, your products are protected from infringement on the entire United States market. In addition, your trademark is an intangible asset with value. As the owner of the trademark, you can sell it for the value of your brand.
Can You Sell on Amazon Without Brand Registry?
Yes, but you would be hamstrung by a number of challenges. Without the protection and support of an Amazon Brand Registry account, you face an uphill battle to success.
Aside from the protection you get with a Brand Registry account, it’s also the only way to access Amazon’s advanced Seller Central features to upgrade your product listings.
If you’re trying to build a long-term business or brand, a trademark is critical to establishing your value in the market. Most savvy consumers know that Amazon has problems with counterfeit and fake products. With Brand Registry, you get a presumption of trust. Potential customers can count on you as a legitimate business that’s invested in its products.
In addition, with a Brand Registry account, you can use Enhanced Brand Content to control how your listings look. Meanwhile, Amazon keeps updating the features available for Brand Registry sellers, with new improvements and tools coming out all the time.
With just a trademark, you get protection from product infringement and access to more of Amazon’s powerful selling tools. There are so many opportunistic competitors on Amazon’s platform that will try to piggyback on the success of a brand gaining popularity. With Brand Registry, you can protect yourself and your customers from copycats.
Trademark Registration for Amazon SellersOnly a valid trademark registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can get you into Amazon’s Brand Registry. Unregistered trademarks don’t count, no matter how long you’ve been using your logo or brand name to conduct business.
What’s the U.S. Trademark Registration Process?
The USPTO trademark registration process can take 9 months or longer between filing your application and receiving your trademark registration certificate.
The formal trademark registration process has 4 steps:
- You submit a trademark application with the USPTO.
- A USPTO attorney will examine your trademark application to make sure it meets legal requirements and a similar mark doesn’t already exist.
- Your application gets published and goes into an “opposition period” for 30 days, during which others can oppose your trademark registration on legal grounds.
- If no objections are made, you’ll receive your trademark registration certificate within 8-10 weeks after the opposition period ends.
However, the actual trademark process starts even before filing an application. You should contact a trademark professional to carry out a due diligence search and make sure that:
- No one has registered that specific trademark before in your market, and
- You identify the proper trademark class for your category of goods or services.
If your application is incomplete or filed incorrectly, the examining attorney may send it back to you with notes on how to correct your errors. This will cause additional delays. If you file a trademark in the wrong class, you may have to re-file and start the process all over again. If that happens, you’ll have to pay a second application fee.
Once you receive your trademark registration certificate at the end of the process, you can enroll in the Amazon Brand Registry. That involves:
- Filling out the Amazon Brand Registry application,
- Identifying your trademark and products by uploading images, and
- Submitting your product UPC or barcode information.
At Holmes Business Law, our lawyers can help you fill out and submit both applications properly the first time around, saving you time and money.
When Should You File for a Trademark?
The sooner the better. You can even file for a trademark before you start selling products on the market, with an “intent to use” application. If you’re selling products on the market now, you can and should file a trademark application as soon as possible.
What if you can’t wait 9 months? What if someone is already counterfeiting your goods now?
You can speed up the trademark registration process by filing a Petition to Make Special with the USPTO. With this petition, you could speed up the time it takes for an examining attorney to get to your application – from 3 months to 1 month or less.
If you fail to register your trademark and someone else registers it instead, you could lose your entire brand to Amazon counterfeiters. It’s a heartbreaking reality when it happens to business owners, and you can avoid it by getting a trademark sooner rather than later.
The lawyers at Holmes Business Law can help you position your Amazon business for success. Call our offices now at 215-482-0285 to get started.
You can also download our PDF resource for Amazon sellers: How to Pick the Right Trademark Class for Amazon Sellers (eBook)