Are you selling your brand’s products on Amazon? If your brand is a successful one, other sellers are probably sharing in its success.
Building a successful brand is a long and complicated process that is both challenging and rewarding if done right. Behind every successful and internationally recognized brand are many years of marketing, product development, public relations, expertise and effort. All departments work together to build brand reputation and develop the products under the brand umbrella.
After registering your trademark(s), you gain value that can grow over time as you build your brand recognition, awareness and reputation. Considering the tremendous effort that goes into building a brand and the value it creates, it is only understandable that companies will make every effort to establish online brand name protection.
Protecting your brand online is a very complex task, which requires a well thought out brand protection strategy.
Brand infringers and unauthorized sellers are spread around the world, utilizing social networks, as well as dozens of e-commerce websites, and they do it using multiple languages. They may sell counterfeited products, meaning fakes, replicas or knockoffs of your product(s).
They may also resell your authentic products without your consent, as gray market goods (also called parallel import). They may also be authorized sellers selling out of territory or in violation of the brand’s MAP agreements or other pricing policy. This introduces unfair competition and lost revenues, as well as other issues such as a damaged reputation.
Amazon alone operates several Amazon marketplaces for different territories, such as amazon.cn, amazon.com.mx, and amazon.fr, as well as many more. Complicating the problem even further is the fact that e-commerce infringements cross multiple jurisdictions and national laws.
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What can you do to combat online brand infringements?
Here’s how to do it:
(1) The first step to protect your goods is trademark registration. You need to adequately prepare your Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to the task. Make sure your trademark is registered wherever it might be manufactured, marketed or sold online, and also wherever you plan to expand or in territories in which you don’t wish your products to be sold.
U.S. Trademark FAQ:
- What exactly is a trademark? A trademark usually refers to a symbol, word, phrase, or design that represent goods or services, identifies and distinguishes them from others, such as the name of a product or service.
- What symbol can be used for a registered trademark in the U.S.A.? The ® symbol. TM is used for unregistered goods and SM for services.
- What are the benefits of a U.S. federally registered trademark? There is no requirement for federal registration of trademarks, and the use of a mark grants “common law” rights. However, registration provides advantages. It serves as presumption of ownership by the registered IP holder, and enables the holder to seek protection nationwide. It is also the basis to obtain registration outside the U.S.A.
- What is trademark infringement? According to the USPTO, Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.
To read more about protecting your trademark through federal registration see: U.S. Federal Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations. A registered IP right provides your brand with more protection. For example, it’s needed to enroll in Amazon Brand Registry.
(2) Secondly, if your products are being sold on Amazon, use the Amazon Brand Registry. Amazon Brand Registry provides a better degree of reputation management and control over the presentation of your products online. For example, if your products are medical devices, it enables you to determine on which marketplaces a certain product’s availability is prohibited due to noncompliance with the FDA/CE territories. Thus, as the official brand owner, you are entitled to request that Amazon delists listings that are non-compliant.
Another example is that the Brand Registry enables you to request that Amazon merge other listings of the same product under your listing, using the product details which you deem fit, the pictures chosen by you, etc. This results in a more professional representation of your product, consistent with your high standards of branding. No more amateur descriptions or unfit photography used with your products.
What are Amazon Brand Registry requirements to enroll your brand?
You must provide the following information:
- Brand name corresponding to an active registered trademark
- Your government-registered trademark number
- A list of product categories
- A list of countries where the brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
See additional information here – https://brandservices.amazon.com/eligibility
What are Amazon Brand Registry benefits?
- Greater control over your brand’s product listings
- Better search tools on Amazon
- Brand protection
- Brand Registry support team to answer your questions
Can the agents that represent my brand get access to Amazon Brand Registry?
Yes. Once the brand is enrolled in Brand Registry, the user can add additional representatives.
Can I add a new trademark for an enrolled brand?
Yes. Go to Brand Registry Support page and choose ‘Add additional trademarks’ and follow the instructions.
How can I enroll a new brand?
After creating your Amazon Brand Registry account, you can enroll another brand by going to ‘Enroll a new brand’ from the home page of your account.
(3) The next step in protecting your brand on Amazon, is to use MAP Pricing. For MAP or Minimum Advertised Prices, you need a MAP agreement with authorized distributors. Although this action has its pros & cons, if done correctly it will result in a more organized and disciplined price range for your product(s), in lieu of the current pricing jungle that most successful brands have to repeatedly deal with online. This does not mean that Amazon will enforce your agreement, but you will be in better position to protect the value of your products by yourself or with the help of an online brand protection company like Wiser Market.
MAP Pricing FAQ:
What to include in MAP policy?
- Policy Statement – state that this policy is a unilateral policy and not an agreement. State what happens if this policy is violated, and if you work globally, clarify which market(s) the policy applies to.
- Include a short introduction – add a short description of your company and the purpose of the MAP policy.
- Price list. You can put this on your website, directing retailers to go there, and letting them know prices may be changed at your discretion.
- Outline guidelines – Indicate what the policy applies to exactly. For example, is it advertised price or selling price? Does the policy apply to discount codes? Does it apply to all selling channels? Does it exclude discontinued items or out-of-season products?
- Enforcement – define violations, explain enforcement measures.
What’s the difference between MSRP and MAP?
MSRP and MAP are two different things. MSRP is the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. This is the price a product’s producer recommends it to be sold for in retail stores. But this price is not mandatory.
MAP, on the other hand, is Minimum Advertised Price which sets the minimum price at which the retailers must sell the product.
(4) For your next step, use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), Amazon’s inventory storage and shipping service. Did you know that 87% of online purchases being made on Amazon are made directly from the buy box? Using the FBA will highly increase your chances for Amazon choosing your listing to be the one appearing in the Buy Box. Buyers will actually have to make an effort in order to not purchase your brand’s product directly from you.
What do I need to qualify for Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)?
- Amazon Seller Account
- Make sure your products comply with Amazon’s product restriction guidelines. See – https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/200140860?language=en_US&ref=efph_200140860_cont_201030350.
- Fill in the requirements for listing, prepare and send FBA inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers. See – https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/201100890?language=en_US&ref=efph_201100890_cont_201030350.
How does fulfillment by Amazon work?
When you have fulfillment by Amazon, you store your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Amazon stores, picks, packs, ships, and provides customer service for your products for a fee.
How does returns work on Amazon FBA?
When a customer returns a product that is FBA, it is shipped to an Amazon Fulfillment Center. Amazon then examines it and if the return applies, Amazon checks to see if it can return the product and sell it again as a new item. If this is not possible, the product will remain as inventory in your account but will not be available for new sales.
How much does it cost to start Amazon FBA?
Fulfillment by Amazon costs vary depending on several factors such as the size of the product and its weight. To estimate costs for your products visit FBA pricing page.
Also, it’s advised to go over FBA policies for returns, reviews and more. See- https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/201030350.
(4) One more tip is to make your product unique, starting with packaging that is more difficult to fake. Another way to make your products more difficult to copy is to bundle them, making it less likely for infringers to target your brand’s listing.
Wiser IP protection on Amazon
All in all, this short step-by-step guide for setting an Amazon brand protection strategy should significantly improve your Amazon presence and sales, and enable you to report trademark infringement on Amazon.
The problem is that continuous intellectual property protection on Amazon requires time and resources. Also, your brand is likely being sold on or infringed upon on many websites, marketplaces and social media platforms which you might not have even heard of.
That is why you need an online partner to provide you with professional online brand protection services to easily and effectively protect your rights and revenue. With Wiser Market, your brand will have a complete intellectual property protection suit, from detection to enforcement of your IP rights.
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