A Comprehensive Guide to Amazon Brand Registry
If you plan on selling private label products, your own branded products, or building a brand on Amazon, one of the most important things you can do is maintain control of your product listings. You need to protect your listings from “hijackers” so that it’s always your products that appear in the “buy box”.
One of the most effective ways you can do this is by registering your brand with Amazon’s Brand Registry program.
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What is Amazon Brand Registry?
Brand Registry is a program that essentially protects registered trademark products from being sold by unauthorized sellers; it gives the seller full control of the listing which means only you, the seller, can change the information and images on the listing. This helps prevent counterfeit “hijackers” from stealing the listing and selling the product at a deep discount.
This may seem like a daunting task at first but in this article, we’ll explain to you the benefits of the Brand Registry Program and walk you through the whole process to ensure you are prepared to register your brand with ease.
First, let’s explain the potential dangers of not having your brand and products enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry program, starting with competitors hijacking your product listing.
The Danger of Product Hijacking
The “buy box” determines who gets the sale on Amazon. When the customer goes to the white box on the right side of the product page and adds the product to the cart, whichever seller is in the “buy box” will get the sale. This seller also gets the right to use sponsored ads to the product listing.
If you don’t have control of the buy box you can still sell a product on the listing, however, in order to find your product the customer has to make more than a few clicks to find other sellers that are also selling on the listing. Most buyers are unaware of this process or how to get to this page of other sellers. The seller that has the “buy box” basically captures 90% of the sales of the product.
Listing “hijacking” is when unscrupulous sellers try to win (or steal) the “buy box” from you to get the sales on your product listing. The most common problem with this is that the product is typically counterfeited from sellers overseas (such as in China) and being sold at a deep discount. The “hijackers” look for products that are easy to duplicate and click the “sell one like this” button. This gives them the ability to sell your product at a deep discount, win the buy box, and possibly even put you out of business.
This has become a huge problem on Amazon and they are aware of it but they don’t do much in protecting the intellectual property of third-party sellers. The worst part will be when your product gets a negative review because of the poor quality of the counterfeit product a buyer receives.
How Does Brand Registry Help?
Sometimes these “hijackers” can go undetected by new sellers. As a seller, if you are not able to monitor your product listings on a daily basis, “hijackers” will jump on the listing. Amazon Brand Registry program is one of a few ways to prevent this from happening.
Amazon Brand Registry provides 4 great features for you as a seller:
1. It allows the seller to control the listing and be the only one who can edit the product listing content.
2. It prevents other unauthorized sellers from selling that same ASIN.
3. It gives the seller access to Enhance Brand Content.
4. It gives you a personal brand page on Amazon.com.
For new brands starting out this is a MUST to compete against well-known brands. The majority of big-brand names are not aware of this feature on Amazon and do not use the service. This can give new sellers a little bit of a competitive advantage on the Amazon Marketplace.
Let’s breakdown exactly what the features enable:
Owning the Listing
Amazon allows products that are not attached to a Brand Registry account to be changed or edited, such as the description and images. Other sellers can change information about the listing without you even knowing. Amazon Brand Registry prevents this from happening by giving only YOU, the seller, the power to edit the listing. This works great for being able to shut-down a listing or removing the pictures if another seller “hijacks” your listing.
Prevents Other Sellers
The Amazon Brand Registry process will ask you if you have given permission to other sellers on Amazon to sell your product. If you have granted this permission, then these sellers will be able to compete with you and sell your branded products. What they will not be able to do is change the product listing details. Only the owner of the brand is allowed permission to edit the product listing, authorized resellers are not.
If you choose to not give any sellers permission to sell your branded products, Amazon will simply prevent other sellers from selling your ASIN. They will not be able to sell your exact ASIN unless they can provide proof that they are allowed by the brand owner. Don’t be fooled, however, as other sellers can still copy your listing and make a new ASIN, so you will still want to do the occasional check for this on Amazon. But it does make it harder for them.
Enhanced Brand Content
EBC is a great marketing option to showcase your brand and tell a story. This feature allows for more creative freedom. Amazon still controls certain things but they do provide options to choose from to create a wonderful piece of content for customers to view; the EBC is placed right above the product description in place of the typical description. This is a fairly new feature to Seller Central. It used to only be available to those who sold via Amazon Vendor Express (which is no longer available) but Amazon has migrated these features to Seller Central for registered brands. Utilizing EBC allows for more pictures, infographics and the best part: dumping more keywords into the listing.
Amazon Brand Webstore
The last thing the Amazon Brand Registry provides is the chance to build a custom Amazon website. Amazon provides a user interface with a a drag-and-drop system for building the site. It can be hard to navigate at first but with the brand website, the seller can really showcase the brand wonderfully and almost make a separate e-commerce site on the Amazon platform. Amazon also provides analytics data of the customers that come to your Amazon Brand Store. This analytics data isn’t spectacular but they keep adding new analytic views as they expand this feature.
Amazon Brand Registry: The Process
The very first thing you need to do is get your brand registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or your local government agency. If you’ve already done this, great! You’ve saved yourself a few months of waiting. If you haven’t, it is very important to go file for a brand trademark as soon as possible. The cost is a little high at $225 per brand category but it’s well worth it to avoid the future headaches of not having one.
Disclaimer: It is highly recommended to seek professional legal assistance in applying for a trademark. This is just a brief explanation of the topic to give you, the reader, an understanding of how the process works.) The website to register the brand or even look to see if your brand name is available is uspto.gov. Try it out here. This is the standard of trademark search used by lawyers and legal assistants. Scroll down to the “Search trademark database” button and it will bring you into the database search system.
The USPTO also offers some great information about patents, trademarks, and copyrights. They provide cheesy videos but the videos do a great job explaining the process; the site even explains when you need a patent, trademark, or copyright. It is highly recommended that new sellers at least visit the site and learn something new. Again, it is highly recommended to seek legal counsel in applying for a trademark, patent, or copyright though. Some great ways to find legal assistance on a budget are by using services like LegalZoom.com and RocketLawyer.com or a Google search for local business lawyers that specialize in trademark law and intellectual property.
After you apply for the trademark, pay your $225 fee and submit your specimen (an example of your brand being used in commerce, such as the product packaging), you are now in the waiting period. The application takes about 4 months for a legal representative to review your application. If the console finds something wrong, they are usually pretty good about contacting you to explain the problem and give you a chance to fix the issue. Once you fix the problem and re-submit the application, it takes roughly another month to get the application reviewed again. If everything is good this time, you will get a notice for when your mark will be published for opposition. This means that they publish your mark for the public to review and submit any issue they may have with the mark. If this goes well, and no-one disputes your trademark request, you wait another month for the mark to get the seal of approval.
This is why it is important to have your trademark submitted at the very beginning of your Amazon venture. Even if you change the product brand later, you can use the submitted brand for current protection until the new brand is registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
If you have a brand registered with a different government agency from a different country, Amazon will accept those for brand protection as well. You just need one governing body (somewhere) stating the brand is registered with a government agency.
How to Sign Up For Brand Registry
Once you have your trademark registered number, you are ready to apply for the Amazon Brand Registry program. If you already have your brand registered with the government, consider yourself lucky for not having to wait forever and a day for the approval of the mark.
Key things you will need:
● The registered brand mark either on the product itself or on the professional packaging. Amazon does not allow for sticker labels to be considered a package design. It has to be printed directly on the packaging itself. This has caused some sellers to go and spend extra money for premium packaging, and of course, waste more time.
● An image of your mark that looks EXACTLY like your government approved design or mark. Amazon wants the image to match exactly if you have a design mark, or have the same spelling if you have a word mark. Ensure you send Amazon the image that does NOT have the little “R” in the circle. Amazon will kick it back without much detail explaining the rejection.
● Other images of your brand mark being used in branded products. Amazon wants to see and ensure this is a real brand. They want pictures of the packaging, product and anything thing else about the product to show that it is a real brand.
After you submit the necessary pictures and documents, you need to prove it is a real brand. Amazon will want to know where else the brand is being sold. They will not be upset if you say eBay, Etsy, or your own site. Amazon wants to ensure the brand is a real BRAND. These are all good responses to prove the legitimacy of the brand. They will also ask what social media platforms the brand uses for communication. Again, Amazon wants to validate the brand.
Two things happen after the application process. Best case scenario, you get approved and can start setting up the Brand Registry Program features within a few days. Worst case scenario, they send it back with a very vague message (and no real way to understand what went wrong) via email response. If you get one of these emails, just try responding or calling Amazon for further explanation. It might be something as simple as submitting a different image.
The Amazon side of the process usually takes a few days. It has taken some sellers months to get their brand registered, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Back in the day (as in a few years ago) Amazon would allow sellers to register brands without a registered trademark from a government agency. They have since changed this policy and introduced the Brand Registry 2.0 program. Amazon now requires each seller to have their trademark brand OFFICIALLY registered with a government agency.
If you do not have a trademark, don’t worry, they are not hard to get. The trademark process can range from 6 to 18 months to get approved but you are still able to sell your product in the meantime, you just won’t have access to the Amazon Brand Registry program. If your product launch depends on the protection of the Brand Registry program, wait until you are enrolled in the program. If your product does not need this protection right away, it is recommended to start selling while you are waiting for the trademark registration number.
Once your brand is registered you will get all the protection benefits mentioned in this article but do not fall in to the false sense of security that your product is completely protected. Counterfeiters are smart and can sometimes find a way around the program. Amazon Brand Registry does make it a much more manageable problem to handle though.
Amazon Brand Registry is a very powerful feature for private label sellers. It will help the customer learn about the brand, provide the seller with great marketing extras and protect the listing from potential “hijackers”.
The moment you decide to sell or start an Amazon FBA business, think of a brand name and get it registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office (or your local government agency) as soon as possible. The USPTO can take up to one year to finally get it approved and accepted. If you are one of the lucky sellers who already have a registered trademark, do not wait, sign up for Amazon Brand Registry now!
(It is highly recommended to seek professional legal advice when applying for a patent, trademark, or copyright. This text was written merely to explain the process and should not be considered professional legal advice).
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