Amazon recently launched a new, updated Amazon Brand Registry Program, Brand Registry, which helps protects the brands of sellers who use Amazon as a platform to make sales. The whole function and purpose of a brand is so that consumers can readily identify manufacturers and products that they trust.
Amazon Brand Registry: New Tools For Amazon Sellers
The new Amazon Brand Registry is designed to provide e-commerce sellers with innovative tools, such as text and image search and predictive automation, that will help drive consumer traffic to sellers’ Amazon sites.
Sellers who participate in the Amazon Brand Registry program will be better able to funnel potential customers to their Amazon marketplace sites through keyword searches using the brand name.
Protecting Your Brand From Infringers
The new, updated Brand Registry at Amazon is meant to address issues that sellers had about other sellers infringing or violating their trademark and intellectual property rights. In the past, there have been many instances in which a copycat seller would mimic a product of a successful brand in order to benefit from the legitimate brand’s position in the amazon marketplace.
The end result is that confused consumers would mistakenly purchase a copycat product and would be disappointed once they received their products since they did not come from the brand that they had grown to trust. This deception can have a negative impact on the brand in the mind of consumers, even though a copycat manufacturer is the one that was acting in a deceitful manner.
Amazon has innovated its Brand Registry program in order to enhance protections for the brands owned and registered by its sellers. The Amazon Brand Registry program requires more from sellers than the earlier version of the program, but is meant to make the online marketplace that it runs more fair, secure, and trustworthy for consumers and sellers alike.
Who is Eligible to Use The Amazon Brand Registry Program?
Unfortunately, the new Brand Registry program at Amazon is not for everyone. The new program is limited to use by only those sellers that hold registered trademarks for their brands. Under the previous version of the brand program at Amazon, sellers only had to prove that they held the domain name for their brand, that their product packaging contained the brand name, and that the product toted the brand name, as well. Under the new Brand Registry Program, sellers must prove that they hold a registered trademark on the brand name.
Amazon will take steps to protect established brands on its website selling platform if sellers make an effort to register and protect their brands, as well. That is why Amazon now requires trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) before a seller may participate in the Brand Registry program.
What Does Registering for a Trademark Entail?
Trademarks are marks, images, stylized words or text, catch phrases, logos, company names, product names, etc., that are used in commerce and in association with a specific product, service, or brand. A trademark can be registered at the state level and at the federal level, but for the purposes of the Amazon Brand Registry program, trademarks should be registered at the federal level with the USPTO. Anyone is free to file a trademark application with the USPTO; there is no requirement that you need to be a U.S. citizen in order to seek protection on a trademark that is used in commerce conducted in the United States.
To obtain trademark protection in the United States, a trademark application should be filed with the USPTO. The trademark application will go through an examination process, where a government employee evaluates the mark to ensure that it is trademark protection eligible (i.e., it is distinct enough to legally serve as a trademark) and that no one else has registered the trademark in the past for use in a similar area of commerce, i.e., the specific category of commerce in which you plan to use the mark.
If you need to use the trademark in several categories of commerce, e.g., accessory apparel (hats, etc.) and on backpacks, you can apply for your trademark to be registered for your select areas of commerce. An experienced trademark lawyer can help you determine what areas, or categories, of commerce you need to designate on your trademark application.
The trademark application will be officially published, and if no one in the general public challenges the registration of the trademark within a designated period of time, the trademark applicant will be issued a trademark registration number. Overall, the process of registering a trademark with the USPTO is a matter of “wait and see” and is relatively painless, but it is sometimes a complicated endeavor. Sometimes a trademark application is refused by the USPTO and you will have to challenge the refusal. An experienced trademark attorney can help you with the trademark application process and can help you challenge a refusal if you are issued one by the USPTO.
How is Trademark Protection Helpful?
Trademark protection for a brand can bestow many benefits on the trademark owner that are not available if the trademark is not officially registered with a state or federal government entity. For instance, looking specifically at federal registration of a trademark, federal registration of a trademark with the USPTO:
- Empowers registered trademark holders to file infringement lawsuits whenever a competitor or a copycat tries to make a product that is similar and uses the same or a confusingly similar brand name in order to trick consumers into thinking they are getting the legitimate product they are looking to purchase.
- Establishes intellectual property rights to the brand, which are exclusive. No one else can use the registered trademark without permission from you.
- Allows registered trademark holders to confidently build up their brand around their registered trademarks. Consumers grow to associate a certain level of quality and marketing with the registered trademark, and hopefully consumers will become brand loyal in the long run.
- Allows registered trademark holders to take advantage of the benefits offered by registering on Amazon’s Brand Registry program. Registration under the Brand Registry program enables trademark holders to quickly file and resolve complaints against other sellers on Amazon that are benefiting from the unauthorized use of their brand.
- Offers a number of legal protections that an unregistered trademark does not have.
Unfortunately, federal registration of a trademark with the USPTO only offers protection in the United States. If you conduct business outside of the United States, whether it is through Amazon or some other platform, a federal registration of a trademark with the USPTO will not protect your intellectual property rights abroad. However, in situations in which you conduct business abroad, you could benefit greatly from registering your trademark internationally.
The Madrid Protocol is a collection of laws that a majority of the countries in the world have agreed to be bound by when it comes to international registration of trademarks. Trademark applicants can file a single application and obtain trademark protection in many countries at one time. It is a useful, cost saving approach to obtaining international trademark protection.
What Happens if Someone Else Has the Same Trademark as I Do?
From time to time, it just so happens that you might go to register a trademark, only to discover that someone else is using the same trademark. If the mark is being used in the same category of commerce as you, e.g., both marks are used in the area of selling coffee, then you will most likely receive a refusal from the USPTO.
You could challenge the refusal of your trademark application, but if the other company was using the trademark before you, you do not have much to go on and should consider using a different trademark entirely. Learn more about establishing first use, in our article Trademark’s First Use in Commerce.
Establishing Your Brand on the Amazon Brand Registry
On the other hand, you might discover that some other company is using the same trademark as you, but in a different area of commerce. When two entities are using the same trademark, but in different areas of commerce, the USPTO is likely to allow the registration. A good example of this in the real-world is DOMINO’s Pizza, and DOMINO sugar. Both entities use the same name (i.e., DOMINO), but one entity limits its use of the mark to pizza and pizza delivery services, while the other uses the mark for granular sugar products.
For many Amazon sellers, it is absolutely critical to the success of your business to be enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry Program. If you need help with obtaining a Amazon Brand Registry trademark, you can contact the professionals at Revision Legal. Our trademark experts can help you obtain the registration that you need to take advantage of Amazon’s Brand Registration program. Contact us today using the form on this page or call us at 855-473-8474.
Editor’s note: this post was originally posted May, 30, 2017. It has been updated for clarity and comprehensiveness.