If you want to protect your products on Amazon then you’ll need to register your brand on Amazon’s Brand Registry. Once you have done that then you’ll find it easier to make changes to your listings and to stop others jumping onto them.
In fact Amazon is increasingly keen on sellers getting onto Brand Registry and seem to be less enthusiastic than they have been about resellers selling other company’s stuff. That’s a pity but seems to be a trend that you need to be aware of if you are entering Amazon world.
If you are already selling on Amazon and you haven’t registered with Brand Registry then you should do so as a matter of priority, if you ignore it then it may come back to bite you.
The reason is that someone else might lay claim to your brand name if you have one, not in a malicious way but just as a by product of selling the stuff they have previously bought from you. In our experience this happens more often than you would think.
You might be the manufacturer/producer of something – perhaps soft furnishings for instance – and for many years you have been selling in your own store, publishing a catalogue on your website and selling through a distributor. All fairly normal behaviour.
One day you decide to sell on Amazon and much to your surprise you find that your stuff is already listed and is using your brand name to help promote it. It has a number of sellers, some you recognise and some you don’t. You are conflicted immediately, on the one hand delighted to see your stuff selling and on the other upset that you are not in control. Not only that but some of the listings are pretty poor quality and not all the information appears to be accurate. Some of the reviews from end buyers look a bit concerning as well.
An unlikely scenario? Not at all. It’s one we come across often.
Here is what has typically happened. One of your buyers has found that they can sell your home furnishings on Amazon and that you offer great fast service when an order is placed. So they list your stuff that they have figured out they can promote and supply with little risk. They’ve created listings using your images and knocked together some content. You’ve been happy to supply them, you never thought to ask where they were selling and up until you decided to sell on Amazon you didn’t particularly care.
Other sellers have jumped onto the listings as well, aware they can buy the same items from your distributor.
Now that you want to sell on Amazon you’ll want to sort out the listings, perhaps control the pricing better and maybe even get rid of one or two of the sellers who seem to be poor at customer service. However, sorting out those problems can take time and you should be prepared for a frustrating time. When you approach Amazon to explain the situation you’ll find them hard to convince that you are the product authority. They’ll not instantly accept your claim that you should be allowed to alter the listings, why should they? They have a seller who has been creating listings regularly and making good revenue and other sellers are in there as well, so you’ll need to prove that you are more important to Amazon that the existing seller(s).
You could decide to create new listings using a new barcode for the items already on Amazon. But you’ll lose the sales history from the existing listings so that’s not ideal. And you’ll not have addressed the underlying issue of being out of control with the historical listings.
To address things properly you’ll need to register with Brand Registry. They’ll require company details, Companies House company formation details, director identification information, trademark details and anything else that they decide they require to let you register. That can take time if your items are already selling on Amazon, basically Amazon need to do their diligence to avoid upsetting the existing sellers by mistake.
We’ve been through that process with a number of clients and it takes time. Ultimately you get there but it can be a frustrating experience.
That’s why we recommend that you get registered with Brand Registry as soon as possible. It ensures that you stay in control of your listings and don’t end up in a situation where you are having to negotiate your rights to control your brand.
If you have a trademark then submitting the documentation to Amazon is easy enough. But if you don’t have a trademark then you’ll need to get one. That may sound daunting but can be surprisingly easy and it is not expensive.
You can do it yourself if your trademark claims are not complicated, and normally they are not complicated. Or you can hire a (Patent) Lawyer to do it for you if you have specific concerns.
Doing it yourself is very straightforward – it’s an online process you’ll find here and takes around a month to approve and costs around £200. Not bad. Basically uploading a copy of your logo is about as hard as it gets. Most of the options offered end up being the default ones. Only down side is that they might reject your application and you end up £200 down.
You’ll need to decide what “class” your trademark comes under – basically the category. There are not a huge number to look through and it should be pretty obvious what “class” your product/business belongs in.
You can search for existing conflicts with your desired tradename, and you should avoid tradenames that are somewhat generic, ie Bicycle won’t stand a chance of being registered.
Rather than take you through the steps for filing we’ve found this excellent online step by step guide from the Entrepreneurial Handbook site, it gets updated regularly and should give you all the information you need with respect to trademark filing. Entrepreneurial Handbook Step by Step Guide.
If you are selling or want to sell on Amazon then we highly recommend you get registered on Brand Registry, and if you don’t have a trademark then get one before you start the process as it will make things a lot easier for you.