What you need to know about Brand Registry 2.0 to protect your brand on Amazon
In mid 2016, Birkenstock left Amazon for good. Tired of feeling as though Amazon was unwilling to police the third party platform for counterfeit and unauthorized selling, they refused to remain a vendor or authorize official resale of their products on Amazon.
Partly as a response, and partly due to the fact that this had been a recognized problem at Amazon for quite some time, Brand Registry 2.0 was launched in May 2017. There were the main feature of the original Brand Registry – editorial control and exemptions from use of UPC/EANs – plus some great new features that were added to Brand Registry for all sellers who have it:
- Enhanced Brand Content
- Headline Ads
In addition to these great marketing tools that used to be available only to vendors (and now Vine is available in beta, as are videos), by far the best aspect of this new Brand Registry approach taken by Amazon is the ability to submit infringement cases more effectively, and even request to be brand gated (some brands and ASINs were so high risk that Amazon proactively gated them to protect the customer experience).
So how do you get Brand Registry?
Previously, you only needed packaging and products containing your logo/label, and a website showing a matching logo/label with contact information matching that in your Seller Central account. This was entered into an application that also asked for basic info like product categories and countries you sell/produce in.
Now, you still need those, but now you also need a registered trademark. Right now, only mark types #1 and #4 are permitted, but we have reason to believe that very soon, mark types #3 and #5 will also be permitted, although the exact terms are as yet unclear.
Additionally, the whole thing is in a new dedicated interface, to which you need to directly invite team members, access to their Seller Central account is no longer sufficient to access Brand Registry.
Members of the original Brand Registry still have access to the same marketing features as the new Brand Registry 2.0, but not the new trademark protections that Amazon is touting.
So what are the terms and conditions of use?
They are found in their entirety here (you’ll need a Seller Central account to view these). Items of importance (emphasis added):
Access and Use. Participation in Brand Registry and access to any Brand Registry service is subject to Amazon’s approval. These terms constitute an agreement between the applicable Amazon Contracting Party and its affiliates as specified below in Paragraph 12, and you and/or the entity you represent. By registering for or using Brand Registry and/or any Brand Registry service, you (on behalf of yourself or the entity you represent) accept these terms, including any related Amazon policies that apply for each country for which you register or elect to use Brand Registry (in each case, the “Elected Country”), which are incorporated by reference into these terms. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your Brand Registry account and related account credentials, and you agree to accept responsibility for all activities that occur in connection with your Brand Registry account and related account credentials. You will inform Amazon immediately if you believe an unauthorized third party may be using your Brand Registry account or credentials, or if they are lost, stolen, or compromised. Amazon and its affiliates reserve all rights not expressly granted to you in these terms. These Brand Registry terms do not restrict Amazon’s rights under other agreements you may have with Amazon.
You represent and warrant that: (a) you have all necessary rights and authority to enter into these terms, to perform your obligations, and to grant the rights, licenses, and authorizations described in these terms; (b) any content or other materials made available by you or your affiliates to Amazon or in connection with or related to your use of Brand Registry will always be accurate and complete, and any use by Amazon or its affiliates or licensees will not infringe or violate the rights of any third party; (c) you and your affiliates, employees, agents, subcontractors and suppliers will comply with all applicable laws and Amazon policies in connection with or related to your use of Brand Registry; and (d) you and your financial institution(s) are not subject to sanctions or otherwise designated on any list of prohibited or restricted parties or owned or controlled by such a party, including but not limited to the lists maintained by the United Nations Security Council, the US Government (e.g., the US Department of Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list and Foreign Sanctions Evaders list and the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List), the European Union or its member states, or other applicable government authority.
Content and Materials. You grant Amazon and its affiliates a royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, and sub-licensable right and license to reproduce, perform, display, distribute, adapt, translate, modify, re-format, create derivative works of, and otherwise use on and in connection with Amazon websites and related products and services, any content or other materials you make available through Brand Registry; provided that Amazon will not alter your trademarks from the form provided by you (except to re-size them to the extent necessary for presentation, so long as the relative proportions remain the same) and will comply with your removal requests as to specific uses of your trademarks (provided you are unable to do so using standard functionality made available to you by Amazon); provided further that nothing in these terms will limit Amazon’s and its affiliates’ ability to use any content or other materials without your consent to the extent allowable without a license from you under applicable law or valid license from a third party. All other content and other materials included in or made available through Brand Registry are the exclusive and confidential property of Amazon (“Confidential Information”), which you may only use to the extent necessary for your participation in Brand Registry. You may not disclose any Confidential Information of Amazon or its affiliates, or disparage Amazon, its affiliates, or any of their respective products or services.
Modifications. Amazon may in its discretion modify, suspend, or discontinue any feature of Brand Registry, or your ability to use Brand Registry or any Brand Registry service, at any time, with or without notice. Amazon may also modify these terms in its discretion at any time by posting the revised terms in Brand Registry, and your continued use of Brand Registry after the effective date of any modification will constitute your acceptance of the modified terms.
Okay, so now I know how to apply and what the terms are; what can I do with it?
Right now, not much through the Brand Registry interface itself, except report a violation directly. This is huge!!
We hate the existing mechanisms to report violations; they’re not efficient, the reviewers often reject the submissions for seemingly no good reason. One recent client had such a hard time reporting violators that they simply suppressed the listing to prevent futher damage to their brand. That’s just awful. So this is a great improvement! Also, you can see the list of the complaints that you’ve registered, which is also really nice.
You can also do a product search within the interface to issue complaints – it basically is like the results in the actual website search, but with an easier reporting mechanism. This is very powerful, and brands should be prepared to have action taken against them or a mechanism to suspend your Brand Registry if you abuse this. I have already seen this abused with some of my clients where the brands either filed inaccurate claims, or didn’t realize that they weren’t supposed to file that particular type of complaint – be careful about this!! The Terms are clear that you have to abide by Amazon’s policies or get booted off.
I saw a comment from a seller who complained and said that they got a generic response that they hadn’t provided sufficient evidence of the infringement, and that they thought the seller they complained about should have to prove the item was real rather than the brand proving it was fake. Being that we are all held to the laws and regulations of the United States, per the terms, brands should expect that the rules still apply to them.
I don’t expect enforcement of poor behavior by brands to be part of their plan this year, but given the usual pace of Amazon projects, I would expect performance notifications and warnings against brands who issue unauthorized or fake complaints to be launched sometime in 2018. When these complaints harm seller accounts, and can hurt the businesses of the people selling – in many cases – authentic and legitimately procured goods, Amazon has a duty both to the brands and to the sellers and has to tread a fine line as the enforcer on their Marketplace.
Overall though, there’s really not much else there yet. Knowing Amazon, they launched the interface on time as promised, with a feature list in progress as long as my arm. It’ll be great to see what they offer!
Some additional info:
- How do I put my contact information on my website?
- How do I register for a trademark?
Given our focus on using expert help to take care of complex work that wastes hundreds and thousands of dollars when done incorrectly, we recommend working with legal counsel directly here, not using any online services. Especially for the review of whether someone else is already using the trademark, the services of a professional are a must. You don’t want to be rejected by USPTO months and months after submitting and have your ownership of your brand be in question.
- How do I put my brand name on my product?
For this, I will reference a previous post on our site from the amazing Xiangping Yang.
Final thoughts – if you’re selling a brand in the United States, you need Brand Registry 2.0 on Amazon. You can easily search for violations and report them; you can get in at the ground level with whatever else Amazon will add to this interface.
If you’re not protecting your brand on Amazon, you’re allowing a huge part of your online reputation to be completely unmanaged, and given the importance of Amazon to consumer behavior, primarily in searching for brands before choosing to buy, especially for in store research and comparison, leaving your brand story to chance is a very poor idea. Make sure you are signed up, and if you don’t want to deal with Amazon, don’t! You can certainly hire a firm like ours to help you.