What is Amazon Brand Registry & How to Set It Up
Amazon is the largest online marketplace today. With over 398 million products listed on their site and over 26 million transactions daily, it’s no wonder more and more business owners are selling their products on Amazon.
However, it’s not all roses. Selling on Amazon in recent years has become more challenging, with competition from cheap, low quality counterfeits and unscrupulous re-sellers who try to make a profit on the arbitrage made on the sale of your products.
For potential buyers of Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) businesses, there is a genuine concern about buying a business that could be easily hijacked and copied, potentially losing them the “buy box” and the revenue that comes with it. If you’re looking to sell your private label business in the future, that concern can directly impact your ability to sell.
If you are a seller who produces and sells your own private label products on Amazon, you need to sign up for Amazon’s updated brand registry.
So what does Amazon consider a “Brand,” and why should you care about Amazon’s Brand Registry?
“The Amazon Brand Registry is available to sellers who manufacture or sell their own branded products. Manufacturers can enroll their brand in the Amazon Brand Registry and register themselves as the brand owner. The goal of Amazon Brand Registry is to make it easier for sellers to manage their own brands and list their products on Amazon.”
Registering your brand proves you own the products you are selling; once you have been approved, you will get the extra protections Amazon affords to brands.
If you are selling (or ever looking to sell) your private label FBA business, registering your brand can help increase its value. If you are buying, you have the peace of mind of knowing you are buying an established and trusted brand that is protected from hijackers and copycats.
To better understand the changes to Amazon’s brand registry and how they benefit you as a seller, we need to dive into the brand registry’s first incarnation and some of the challenges sellers faced using it.
Amazon Brand Registry 1.0 and its Problems
Before the updates to Amazon’s brand registry, a seller could register their private label brand fairly easily. Sellers only had to prove ownership of the domain name for the brand, and provide images of the product and its packaging displaying the brand name. The idea was that the brand registry would help sellers protect their listings and prevent copyright infringements by counterfeiters and re-sellers.
However, the registry’s first version failed to provide protections in the way sellers expected. Registration only gave limited protection, and reporting infringements was a painful and slow process.
In order to improve the customer experience and make it easier to search for products, Amazon allows the same listing to be used by multiple sellers. Unscrupulous sellers would “hijack” listings and sell similar or counterfeit goods as if they were genuine, by piggybacking on a legitimate product listing. Customers would buy products from a listing, thinking it was the original brand, and receive non-genuine product.
In many cases, customers wouldn’t even realize the product was a counterfeit until they tried making a warranty claim. When they got bad customer service from the counterfeit seller, they would then leave a poor review on the original listing. Such reviews resulted in damage to the original brand’s reputation and goodwill with customers, which the brand owner had spent time and money creating, and also negatively impacted the trusted status of Amazon as a platform that would provide a great customer experience.
To make matters worse, the seller carried the burden of proof in reporting infringement. It was up to the seller to prove their branding and copyright were being violated.
Another problem with these hijackers was that even if they were caught, it was too easy for them to open a new account and start again. They pushed as much product as they could, and when they were “burned” (flagged and shutdown by Amazon), they would simply open a new account and start again.
As a seller, you are also Amazon’s customer. If you can’t trust that Amazon will protect your brand, the company knows you will leave. Fewer sellers hurts Amazon by impacting market share and opening the opportunity for a competitor to throw their hat into the ring.
The updated brand registry system goes a long way to fixing these issues and aims to improve the customer experience for both sellers and consumers alike.
Improvements to Amazon Brand Registry 2.0
The updated brand registry — Amazon Brand Registry 2.0 — is a way for Amazon to show that it’s focusing on people who are serious about their brands and not selling junk product.
Amazon has made some significant improvements to the brand registry program since May
- While there will be ongoing updates, here are the major improvements to Amazon Brand Registry 2.0 so far:
- Brand Registry now has its own dedicated user interface and login, separate from Seller Central.
- The new interface has improved reporting tools to deal with counterfeit products and hijacked listings.
- Sellers can access new powerful search tools to help them find products that are infringing on their copyright.
- Amazon has a dedicated team to handle reported infringements.
Amazon made these changes in order to meet their original company goals. As explained by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
Amazon’s primary goal is to put their customer’s experience first. Counterfeit product, hijacked listings, and unauthorized re-sellers create a negative experience for customers. These negative experiences directly impact the bottom line for Amazon.
Let’s take a look at what these changes mean and how they improve both the customer and seller experience.
Dedicated User Interface
The new brand registry has its own dedicated user interface and login, which is separate from Seller Central. This new dashboard makes it much easier to track which brands you have registered, while giving you a clean and dedicated interface to manage any copyright or trademarking violations.
Powerful Search Tools
Previously, the only way you could identify a brand violation was if someone managed to hijack the buy box from your listing or if you had a bad review from a customer who purchased a counterfeit item.
The new search tool allows you to search for instances of brand violations using:
- Product Name
- Brand name
- Even keywords and images!
These tools mean you can find possible brand violations directly from your brand registry dashboard, cutting down on potential loss of revenue from would-be hijackers.
Improved Reporting Tools
In the past you had to report a violation using a form buried deep within the bowels of Amazon’s help documentation here. Sellers now have the option to “report a violation” right from their brand registry dashboard, allowing them to quickly and easily deal with counterfeit products and listing hijackers.
Dedicated Team to Handle Reported Infringements.
Before the updates, dealing with hijackers and counterfeiters was something you had to do yourself. You had to send a takedown notice directly to the hijacker/counterfeiter or purchase the fake product in order to register a complaint. Once you notified Amazon, it usually took the company a few days to take down the offending listing.
This convoluted process resulted in many sellers complaining that Amazon didn’t care about its sellers. Now Amazon is taking a more proactive approach and moving to help sellers deal with counterfeits more efficiently.
According to Seller Lift, Amazon claims that complaints can be addressed in as little as four hours by a dedicated team of 300 people who manage and deal with any infringement-related claims.
This should speed-up and improve the process for reporting counterfeit products and make it harder for counterfeiters to hijack your listing.
What about abuse — what’s to stop a competitor or copycat reporting you to negatively impact your rankings? Well, there are a few fail-safes required of people reporting:
- The complaint must come with an intellectual property information file from the person/business filing the complaint, and has to include: ASIN, email, name, asserted rights, etc.
- The complainant must provide a statement verifying that he/she is duly authorized to act on behalf of the aggrieved brand.
If you are brand registered, then all this information is on file already and it’s easy to report violations from your brand registry dashboard. If a counterfeiter is trying to play games to take down your listing, they would have to be able to provide information that they don’t have access to.
This new process is great news for sellers; previously, complaints could take days or even weeks to resolve, resulting in lost sales and damage to the legitimate seller’s reputation.
Ongoing Improvements and Updates
There are many more “rumored” improvements, some of them mentioned at the 2017 Boost with FBA Sellers Summit in New York City. These include:
- Unique Amazon URLs for your brand (e.g. amazon.com/my-brand)
- Customizable product details pages with more features and a new design
- Ability to upload custom videos on your product page
All these changes lead to better control for Amazon sellers over their private label brand and give them some of the much-needed protections sellers have been asking for, while also improving the overall customer experience.
What You Need to Know to Apply For Amazon’s Brand Registry
Before you get started registering your brand with Amazon, here is a list of what you need. These have been pulled directly from Amazon’s brand registry page for your convenience:
- Registered trademark.
- This is your brand name that has a live registered trademark ®. It cannot be a pending trademark ™ anymore. It also has to be word mark and NOT a stylized, illustration, or design mark.
- For USPTO marks, the Mark Drawing Type must be equal to “4 – STANDARD CHARACTER MARK” or “1 – TYPESET WORD(S)/LETTER(S)/NUMBER(S)”.
- If you would like to know more about the basics of trademarking, there is a series of videos on the USPTO.GOV website here.
- Your “Government Registered Principal Trademark Registration” or Serial Number.
- Images of the brand’s logo.
- Images of products and packaging that carry the trademarked brand name. If the product is not branded, the packaging must be branded.
- A list of product categories (e.g., apparel, sporting goods, electronics) in which the brand should be listed.
- A list of countries where the brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
Once you have all the information in the list above, go to Amazon’s brand registry page here.
While many of the requirements are unchanged, there is one really important change to the Amazon Brand Registry that will impact you as a private label seller.
Registered Trademark Requirement
The biggest change to the brand registry requirements is that private label sellers must now have a registered trademark for their brand in order to qualify. For this reason, if you were registered prior to April, 30th, 2017, you will be required to re-enroll in the program, as your previously registered brands will not be automatically transferred to the new system.
In the past, you were able to have a pending trademark and still register using the pending trademark ™ symbol on your branding; however, that is no longer acceptable. To be eligible for Brand Registry 2.0, you are required to have an “Active Registered Trademark” ® . This requirement means your trademark application has to have been already approved and currently listed as “active” before you submit your application to the Amazon Brand Registry.
If you have not applied for a trademark before trying to register your brand, there could be a delay of six to ten months before you can properly register your products on Amazon while you wait for your trademark to be approved.
Helpful Tips For Registering Your Brand’s Trademark
When submitting your brand registry application to Amazon, the trademark information you supply has to be an exact match to what is registered on the U.S. Patent and Trade Office database, including capitalization and spaces. Any differences will cause a rejection of your brand registry application and further delay your access to the protection that brand registration with Amazon gives you.
When applying for your trademark, you will be asked to show a copy of the product being used in commerce (an image of your product is fine). If you cannot provide an image, your application for that class could be rejected.
Registering a trademark costs money, and the cost varies depending on how you go about it. Trademark application fees can cost anywhere from $225 to $400, plus additional fees for any additional classes you would like to protect. If you use a trademark attorney or a service like Trademark Engine, the prices could be higher.
If you have multiple brands, the trademarking process can get really expensive, really fast. Depending on your circumstances, registering a single “all-encompassing” brand may be a better option than registering multiple independent brands.
While Amazon doesn’t charge you to register your brand, they do require a trademark; the cost for trademark registration will create a barrier to entry for some sellers.
The place where you are selling your products, either right now or intended, is a consideration when registering your trademark. If you are U.S. only, then the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will do. However, if you currently sell or intend to sell in Europe or internationally, then registering with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which uses the “Madrid System,” may be more suitable.
In any case, it’s important to get legal advice on what is right for you and your business. Enforcing trademarks internationally is a much more complicated issue and outside the scope of what’s covered here.
Improve Your Brand’s Value Through Amazon’s Brand Registry
The updates to Amazon’s brand registry is a step in the right direction. They improve the shopping experience for customers by making it harder for counterfeit products to sell on Amazon’s platform, and by doing so help restore buyer confidence.
Amazon has heard sellers’ concerns, and has made changes designed to improve the overall selling experience. By dedicating a team to dealing with grievances and making it easier for sellers to report infringing listings, as well as decide who is allowed to sell their product, Amazon is giving power back to sellers.
While the registered trademark requirement is a pain and an additional cost for many sellers, it should be viewed as a positive. Trademarking is important, and Amazon’s requirement serves to reinforce the need to trademark your products. However, if you are testing a product or bootstrapping, then it may not make sense for you to trademark individual products, due to the cost.
So, if you want to protect your private label brand on Amazon, legitimize it in the eyes of the consumer, and give yourself an edge over the competition, then Amazon’s updated brand registry is the way to go.
When you add to these changes all the exciting new features on the horizon for registered brands, the future’s looking bright for sellers on Amazon.
If you are planning on buying a private label FBA business, then you will gain peace of mind knowing brand registration will protect your new business from counterfeiters and copycats. If you are an existing seller, being brand registered can increase the value of your business if you plan to sell. Build your own online selling empire, and protect it with Amazon’s brand registry.
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