If you sell on Amazon, two of your major concerns are discoverability (visibility) to potential customers and counterfeit goods. For those who are selling their own branded products (rather than reselling products with another company’s brand), the “new and improved” Amazon Brand Registry will help you with both of these goals.
The new Amazon Brand Registry does this by building on the legal rights that you get when you register your trademark with a government entity. When you apply for a trademark registration, a government office checks for conflicts, verifies your rights, gives others a chance to oppose your trademark, and so forth, so it makes sense for Amazon to rely on those rights to help them determine what you can do on Amazon.com
As a law firm, we don’t focus on selling strategy, discoverability, and similar e-commerce issues. We focus on trademark registration and enforcement. We have clients all over the world that sell on Amazon. Here are a few questions and answers about trademark registrations and the Amazon Brand Registry.
What countries can my trademark registration be from to qualify?
Currently, your trademark can be registered in the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, or the European Union (which includes Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the UK, and 23 other countries). These countries all have electronic access that allows Amazon to verify your rights online. We expect Amazon to add other countries over time.
We can help you get a trademark registration in any of these countries, either directly or through our network of colleagues.
What type of trademark registration do I need to satisfy Amazon?
This will depend on the country. Since most of our clients are basing their Amazon Brand Registry on their US trademark registration, I’ll focus on two important points: Your US trademark registration needs to be a standard character mark (NOT a design mark or logo), and registered on the Principal Register (NOT on the Supplemental Register as a “merely descriptive” trademark).
We always recommend that you file for a standard character mark as your first priority anyway. It gives you broad protection and the flexibility to update your logo design over time. If your budget allow, you can file a second trademark application to protect your current logo.
How long does it take to get a trademark registration?
In the US, about 8 months, though you can try to get it done faster in some cases. Most of that time is just waiting for the government procedures to be completed. Some registrations–like the EU–can be done faster. Canada is much slower at the moment (they are in the middle of implementing huge changes to their trademark laws).
What “Class” do I need to register?
The world of trademark registrations is divided into 45 International Trademark Classes of goods and services. You need to register your trademark in the classes that match what you plan to sell. If you sell clothing, that’s Class 25. If you sell food, that’s usually Class 29 or Class 30, depending on the type of food. In the United States, you can only register a trademark for the goods you actually sell. In other countries, that restriction doesn’t apply.
All goods are not eligible for the Amazon Brand Registry at the moment. Specifically, books and DVDs are not eligible. But branding for those items is a little different, since the title of a work can’t be registered as a trademark in many locations.
What is the Amazon Brand Registry Verification Code?
After you submit an application to be in the Amazon Brand Registry, Amazon will look up your trademark on the corresponding national trademark register. They will send an email to the person listed as the owner or owner representative. That email will contain a verification code.
This process lets Amazon connect the person who is linked with the government records to the person who is asking Amazon to recognize its right to the trademark.
In practice, here is how it works at our firm. Our client submits an application to Amazon with the trademark registration number. Amazon finds my email address at the US trademark office and sends me an email with a verification code. I send that verification code to my client. My client then gives it back to Amazon to validate the application. Now we’re all connected and Amazon knows to trust my client as the proper owner of the trademark registration.
In a few cases, the trademark owner is different from the person submitting an application to Amazon. In those cases, we verify with our client that the person who filed an application with Amazon can have the verification code. (By the way, we don’t charge our clients for this process.)
Does the Amazon Brand Registry prevent other from selling my products?
No. But it should help you stop people from selling products that are NOT yours but have your trademark on them (i.e. counterfeit goods). That’s one of its purposes.
When someone buys your products from you, they have a right to resell them anywhere they wish, at any price (at least under U.S. law). But no one has a right to put your registered trademarks on products that you did not manufacture or approve for use with your brand.
How can I learn more?
To learn more about trademark registration, read more on this site or send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about selling on Amazon and how the Amazon Brand Registry can help, try some e-commerce articles like these: