Some manufacturers have the mistaken idea that when they sign up for the new Amazon Brand Registry, Amazon will protect their brand from all threats at its marketplace. While the new version of the program does give brand owners some additional safeguards, you need to understand that Amazon Brand Registry was designed to meet a limited set of objectives—Amazon’s objectives, not yours.
As we have written previously, the Amazon Brand Registry will help you protect your brand against certain threats on Amazon’s marketplace, and we believe signing up is a smart investment of your time. But if you’re looking for a comprehensive brand protection strategy on Amazon, you will need to supplement your enrollment in this program with other tools and processes.
Here’s a quick overview of what the Amazon Brand Registry will and won’t do to protect your brand.
Will Amazon help your company pull listings of counterfeit versions of your products?
This is one of the main reasons Amazon developed its Brand Registry program in the first place, and with good reason.
As a 2018 report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) pointed out, when the GAO purchased 47 products from several popular e-commerce sites to test their authenticity, they found 20 of the items were counterfeits. One of those sites with counterfeit goods was Amazon.com.
The GAO’s report summarized the danger this way: “The illegal importation and distribution of counterfeit goods harms the US economy and can threaten the health and safety of US consumers.”
Amazon’s own brand reputation depends on the company providing outstanding online-shopping experiences, and the company does not want to be a party to the sale of counterfeit products, particularly counterfeits that could endanger consumers.
Which is why one of the advantages of signing up for the new Amazon Brand Registry is that the company will give you access to sophisticated tools to search for listings of your company’s products that are in fact knockoffs. When you report these counterfeit listings to Amazon, the company will often investigate the issue quickly.
More good news: Amazon itself also continuously runs its own search tools and uses its own predictive-analytics applications to monitor its marketplace for potential counterfeits.
Will Amazon help your company prevent retailers from violating your MAP or other pricing policies?
This is where many manufacturers misunderstand the statement right at the top of the Amazon Brand Registry landing page:
“Amazon Brand Registry gives you access to tools that enable you to more accurately represent your brand, find and report violations, and share information that can help us proactively prevent violations.”
If you read the details throughout the rest of that page, you will see that the Brand Registry aims to help prevent inaccurate product or company information from finding its way onto the Amazon marketplace. Amazon is interested in preventing fraud, misleading information from sellers, and product details that could confuse or trick shoppers.
But Amazon does not view a retailer listing your products below your company’s MAP prices as a cause for concern. In fact, Amazon views more retailers selling the same product as good for good for consumers because it fosters competition among sellers.
So, no, enrolling in the Amazon Brand Registry does not mean the company will help you remove a listing that violates your reseller pricing policy. That is, unless the retailer’s listing also violates your intellectual property rights, which we’ll discuss next.
Will Amazon help remove or block violations of your trademarks or other intellectual property rights?
In addition to preventing counterfeit goods from appearing on its marketplace, Amazon views stopping intellectual property infringement as the other primary goal of its Brand Registry program.
This is why the new Brand Registry places such emphasis on its new search tools and its “Report a Violation” feature. Amazon’s goal here is to help brand owners identify retailers selling their products using images, company names and trademarks, and sales copy the owner has not given them permission to use.
That means if your company has a leak in your distribution channel, and unauthorized sellers are somehow acquiring your inventory and listing it on Amazon without your permission, you might be able to enlist Amazon’s help is pulling those listings (and even removing the seller altogether) if you can make a case for intellectual property infringement.
Remember, the Amazon Brand Registry exists to protect Amazon’s own interests as much as the interests of any individual brand owner. And the company has a clear interest in preventing its marketplace from facilitating crimes such as intellectual property theft.
So when you sign up for the Amazon Brand Registry and you use the program’s search tools to find a third-party seller listing your products without permission, compile evidence—screenshots of their listing pages, for example—to submit to Amazon documenting the seller’s illegal use of your intellectual property. Amazon takes such claims very seriously.
So, does that mean Amazon will help us prevent unauthorized sellers from listing our products?
Well, yes and no.
Finally, here’s one more grey area of the Amazon Brand Registry. As we just pointed out, Amazon will help a brand owner remove a retailer’s sales listing of their products if the company can prove the seller has violated their intellectual property rights in posting that sales page.
But that does not mean Amazon will intervene to help you if you simply complain that a retailer listing your products isn’t part of your authorized resale network. Amazon views these disputes as distribution channel issues.
So if you can’t build a case that the unauthorized seller is also violating your trademarks or some other area of your company’s intellectual property rights, Amazon probably won’t take action on your behalf. Again, this is why your approach should always be to build a IP-infringement case to bring to the Amazon Seller Team.
What else should your comprehensive brand protection strategy include?
We mentioned in the introduction that enrolling in the Amazon Brand Registry is worth your time. (Here’s a more detailed discussion of what’s involved in applying for Amazon Brand Registry.)
But we also pointed out that this program should represent just one aspect of a broader brand protection strategy. Let’s talk, and we’ll show you what other elements you should include in your approach to brand protection.
Want to learn more?
Visit TrackStreet’s Online Guide to Amazon’s Brand Registry.