Counterfeits are a big problem on Amazon. If you’re selling your board games or other products on Amazon, you’ve probably heard about this.
How can you avoid it?
One way is through the Amazon Brand Registry, a cool feature of the online retailer that lets you take charge of your brand and help stave off counterfeit products.
Interested? Read on for my ultimate guide to getting set up on Amazon’s service.
What is Amazon Brand Registry?
We all know Amazon.
It’s basically the biggest online marketplace for selling our goods. Whether you’re a board game publisher or you’ve got another product, you’re going to want those products on Amazon.
However, there have been an increasing number of counterfeit listings over the years, so much so that Amazon is facing lawsuits for not doing enough.
That’s why Amazon implemented this program, and updated it to version 2.0 (its current form) in 2017.
It’s a program within Amazon that allows trademark and brand owners to have some control over their brands and the products under them. It also helps these owners seek out counterfeit versions of their products and do something about it.
You can see below what my client Genius Games’ store looks like once it’s set up.
Like what you see?
Let’s take a closer look at these benefits and how you can get set up.
What are the Amazon Brand Registry benefits?
According to Amazon, the Brand Registry offers three important benefits for brand owners. These are:
- Accurate brand representation
- Powerful search tools
- Proactive brand protection
Let’s check out each one and see how it can help you.
Accurate brand representation – control your product branding
The first, and probably the most important, benefit of the Registry is the ability to control how your brand and product are represented on Amazon.
This means that you can craft the standard descriptions of your products, so that they are accurate. Without this, others may be creating their own product pages for your game and other goods, with potentially misleading information.
I’m sure we’ve all seen this, either with our own products or on things that we’ve searched Amazon for.
Now you can control how your products are presented, like my client Stonemaier Games’ Amazon store page below:
Powerful search tools – find and destroy counterfeits with ease
Amazon allows you to use some of their proprietary search tools to simplify the process of finding counterfeit goods on the site.
You can use your logo, name, product image, and even bulk-imported ASINs to launch a search for these infringing products. If you find them, Amazon then gives you a streamlined process for instituting the takedown process.
We’ve done this kind of thing in my law practice, and it’s very helpful for getting those counterfeit goods taken down.
Proactive brand protection – let Amazon do the work for you
The third major benefit of signing up with Amazon Brand Registry is that Amazon will use their own algorithms to automatically prevent infringement.
They use all of the information and images that you upload as part of your Brand Registry to match up against new product pages, and determine if they’re infringing. Some of the types of things they claim to be able to catch are:
- Other products that aren’t yours, but use your trademarks and brand names
- Images that feature your logo, but aren’t your products
- Your products being shipped from countries that you don’t ship from or distribute to
- Products with your name, when you’ve already got your full catalog of products up on your brand page
If you’ve had products up on Amazon for any amount of time, all three of these benefits can be a huge help to stop counterfeits and other infringement of your brand.
Ready to get signed up?
Not so fast. Let’s look at what you need to have in place before you apply.
What are the Amazon Brand Registry requirements?
Before you can get your brand registered on Amazon, you need to meet certain requirements.
- You must have an actively used trademark or brand
- That brand must be registered – in the United States, it needs to be registered with the USPTO on the principal register (I’ll get more into this soon)
- The brand text must match the registration exactly
- You also need an Amazon account, but if you don’t have one, you can sign up right before registering for the Brand Registry
As you can see, these requirements are basically surrounding your trademark registration.
If that’s not something you’ve done yet, I’ve got a little bit of bad news – you’re going to have a to wait a little bit before filing your application.
The trademark registration requirement
When you’re actively using a brand name in connection with the sale of certain goods and services, you automatically have trademark protection.
Unfortunately, you can’t do much with those rights. In particular, you can’t sign yourself up for the Amazon Brand Registry.
That’s because, in order to make use of your trademark rights, you generally need to file a trademark registration.
Depending on what country you’re based in, this is generally going to be with your local trademark office.
In the United States, it will be with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Because I’m a US trademark attorney, I’ll be focusing on the USPTO registrations for this article.
Likewise, Amazon requires that you have a registered trademark before getting on the Registry.
Note: This doesn’t mean you can just file a trademark application – you need to have filed your application and gotten it approved by the trademark office, with a finalized registration. In the US, this process can take anywhere from 9 months to a year (or more, if there are problems), so the earlier you start, the better.
Does Amazon Brand Registry require your brand to be trademarked by the US Government?
For those in other countries, here’s a handy table of the options available to you for filing a trademark registration that Amazon will accept.
I believe that those in other countries can potentially file in one of these covered countries above, or in the European Union generally. The specific requirements for each country’s trademark system, with regard to foreign applicants, may vary by country.
You generally can, however, file a registration in the United States, as long as you’re using the trademark in the United States in commerce (selling the product in the US, basically).
What kind of trademark do you need – word or logo?
Amazon will allow you to register for the Brand Registry using either a Word trademark or a Design trademark. The specific names for these different types of trademarks will vary by country. For example, in Germany they are called “Wortmarke” and “Wort-Bildmarke.”
What do the different types of trademarks mean?
A word trademark is just that – it’s a trademark registration for the words themselves.
If you’re Fantasy Flight Games, your word trademark is “FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES.” You can see their registration here.
On the other hand, the design trademark would be the actual logo image that incorporates those words. These trademarks are geared more toward protected the design of the logo, but they still offer some protection for the words themselves.
You can see the FFG design mark below:
They don’t appear to have registered the design mark with the USPTO, however.
Can you set up Amazon Brand Registry without a trademark registration?
The Amazon Trademark requirements mandate a registration
As part of the onboarding application process, you need to actually provide the registration number of your trademark. Amazon will double check this for accuracy.
Additionally, they’re going to use whatever the representative contact information is on the registration in order to confirm that you have permission to sign up for Amazon Brand Registry.
I’ve gotten emails from Amazon when clients are signing up, since I’m listed as the correspondence address on their trademark registrations.
Just be aware of this requirement and speak with your attorney or whoever filed the trademark application for you.
Note: Many applicants have used the WIPO “Madrid Protocol” system to file a trademark outside of their home country. This is a way to use your home trademark application as the basis for filing a trademark easily in many other countries (for a hefty filing fee).
If you have done this, you need to use the registration number of your home application, rather than the WIPO registration number, or you won’t be approved.
How much does it cost to register a trademark?
The cost will vary, depending on a few factors:
- How broad you want to file – are you just doing board games (Class 28), or are you also registering for an accompanying mobile application (Class 9), your online gameplay service (Class 42), and your t-shirts (Class 25)?
- Each additional class of goods will bring with it additional filing fees.
- Are you filing it yourself (cheapest, but most open to mistakes), using a service like LegalZoom (more expensive, and still prone to errors since they don’t have an attorney reviewing it), or using an actual trademark attorney (most expensive, and least error-prone due to their experience in filing other trademarks and “human” touch)?
- Have you filed it on an “intent to use” basis, getting your rights in place before you actually start selling the product This usually involves extra filing and legal fees.
- Are you filing in multiple countries? The WIPO Madrid Protocol system, while very convenient, can bring with it some large filing fees depending on the number of countries you’re registering in.
Obviously, all of these variables can make the cost difficult to gauge in this post.
Some general numbers, though:
- For an in-use US trademark registration for a single class, you’re going to spend around $1000 with an attorney.
- If you’re adding multiple classes, expect to add both a $225 (or $275) filing fee and the attorney’s legal fees for each additional class.
- For an intent-to-use US trademark registration for a single class, the cost will go up to around $1500 with an attorney.
- If you want to go international, expect to pay a few thousand dollars to add other countries, such as the full EU, Australia, China, and others.
Like I said, these numbers can vary from lawyer to lawyer, service to service. You can see the USPTO’s fees here, though, so you can at least figure out what your filing fees might be.
It’s your lucky day! If you’re reading this post, I’ll give you a 20% discount on the legal fees for any trademark registration service.
Just let me know that you’ve seen the article and I’ll apply the discount to your service.
Note: I can’t discount the filing fees, so those won’t change.
Signing up for Amazon Brand Registry
Now that you know all about the Amazon Brand Registry, it’s time to find out how to get signed up.
Where do you file the Amazon Brand Registry application?
This one’s pretty easy.
You can just go to Amazon’s Brand Registry site here, and start the signup process. In order to complete it, you’ll need to have a few things handy. These are:
- You need to have an Amazon account (sign up here)
- The specific brand name(s) that have active registered trademark(s)
- The government-issued trademark number for those trademarks
- A list of the types of products that you should be listed under (toys and games, sporting goods, etc.)
- The countries where you are manufacturing and distributing your products under your brand
Like I discussed before, this obviously requires that you’ve gone through the trademark registration process. If you need help, feel free to contact me.
What does the Amazon Brand Registry cost?
Here’s the best part:
Amazon doesn’t charge anything to have you on the Brand Registry.
You still need to meet that Amazon Trademark requirement, though.
That’s not to say that there aren’t any costs related to it – obviously you’re going to be paying the trademark registration costs and any fees related to actually selling your goods on Amazon.
That being said, as an add-on, the Brand Registry is a great deal!
Bonus Amazon Awesomeness: the Amazon Transparency Program
Before we go, I want to mention one more cool thing that will be super helpful for tabletop game publishers and other product manufacturers.
This is the Transparency program from Amazon.
Essentially, Transparency is a small QR Code-like graphic that you print on your product packaging. It allows Amazon to make sure that any items it ships have the code and are genuine products.
It also lets your customers be assured that they’re not getting fake versions of your products – they can just use Amazon’s Transparency app to check it out.
In order to sign up for Transparency, you’ll need to meet a few specific requirements:
- You need to be able to print these unique Transparency codes on each of your products
- You have to be able to prove that you are the one who is the owner of the brand
- You need to have a UPC barcode or other internationally-recognized identifier on your products
If you’ve got all that, you can check out more info about Transparency here.
Ready to sign up? Let me help you.
If you’re looking to start on the road toward signing up for the Amazon Brand Registry, why not contact a trademark attorney to help you out?
I can assist with a number of things throughout the process, including:
- Conflict clearance on your company and game or product names
- Registering your trademarks in the US or through the WIPO system throughout the world
- Policing your brand on Amazon and on other websites
- Taking down infringement and stamping out counterfeits
- Getting license agreements in place for foreign language game publishers or other licensees of your brand
If you’re new to all this, it could be helpful for you to set up a free consultation by going to my contact page here.
For more information on the trademark process, you can check out my Ultimate Guide to Trademarks by clicking here.
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